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Congressional negotiators agreed to hike funding for missile defense development with Israel. Appropriators from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate agreed Wednesday on a defense appropriations package that includes $155 million for missile defense cooperation with Israel. That’s $17 million more than last year’s appropriation and $75 million more than President Bush requested. Both houses are expected to approve the bill in the coming weeks, with Bush expected to sign the measure before Thanksgiving. The package includes $98 million for Israel’s Arrow missile interceptor program; $37 million for the development of a short-range interceptor, a program launched in part because of Hezbollah’s bombardment of northern Israel during the Lebanese terrorist group’s war with Israel in the summer of 2006; and $20 million to develop a high altitude missile defense.

It is aimed principally at enhancing Israel’s missile defense capability, although the package has applications for U.S. defense. Other Israeli-U.S. packages approved by the appropriators are mostly for U.S. defense needs, especially in Iraq.

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