Obama official assures on Israel defense aid


WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Obama administration official committed to sustaining a 10-year defense assistance program to Israel, saying that advanced technology is endangering Israel.

Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said in a rare speech last Friday that the Obama administration since its outset has been committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

"Ever-evolving technology is making it harder for Israel to maintain its security," Shapiro told the Brookings Institution. He outlined advances in rocket technology available to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as well as broader threats from Iran.

"Even in this challenging budgetary time, the administration will honor this 10-year commitment," he said, referring to an agreement struck by President George W. Bush that guaranteed Israel an average of $3 billion in defense assistance a year for 10 years starting in 2007.

Shapiro outlined the manifestations of the qualitative military edge: U.S. defense assistance to Israel; close cooperation and consultation between the two defense establishments; and an agreement not to sell materials to Israel’s neighbors that could mitigate against Israel’s edge.

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