Congress authorizes anti-missile programs for Israel worth $600 million


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Missile defense programs for Israel worth $600 million are included in a defense policy act approved by Congress.

The Senate approved the $619 billion National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday, a week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill. It awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.

The bill approves joint U.S.-Israeli research and development, as well as procurements for Israel’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow-3 anti-missile programs, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a release praising the approval.

Other provisions for U.S.-Israel cooperation include combating tunnel warfare, which has emerged in recent years as a favored measure of the Hamas militants controlling the Gaza Strip.

Congress must separately approve the funding, which AIPAC urged it to do “as Israel faces increased security challenges.”

Missile defense funding is separate from the approximately $3 billion Israel receives annually from the United States, according to a 10-year agreement the U.S. and Israel signed in 2007. The agreement reached over the summer by the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government rolls missile defense funding into the next 10-year package, which will average $3.8 billion a year.

As part of the new agreement, Israel agreed for the next two years not to ask Congress to appropriate additional funds beyond the $3.8 billion.

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