Israeli Foreign Minister: Delay in US aid to Iron Dome – ‘technical’

September 23, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, experienced a significant diplomatic setback on Tuesday when the US Congress decided to withhold military aid from Israel and refused to vote on funding for its Iron Dome defence system.

Tamir missile is launched from the Israeli Iron Dome, positioned in central Israel, towards rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. Jul 11, 2014. Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS

Due to opposition from a number of Democratic congressmen, $1 billion worth of US aid for Israel was delayed. Following the opposition, the funding will be incorporated into the defence budget which will be put to a vote only in a few months.

However, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid claimed that the US’ difficulty in approving aid to support Israel’s Iron Dome defence system is merely “technical,” blaming former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the diplomatic debacle.

Lapid spoke on Tuesday night with Steny Hoyer, Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives, regarding American assistance to the Iron Dome system, after funding for Israel’s missile defence system was removed from the government spending and debt ceiling hike bill, following a threat by a group of progressive members to block the legislation unless the aid to Israel was withdrawn.

Lapid claimed that “this was a technical postponement” resulting from the debate in Congress over the deficit ceiling in the US budget.

Lapid emphasized the need to approve the request “as soon as possible to ensure Israel’s security needs.”

Lapid then asserted that “after years in which the previous government neglected the Congress and the Democratic Party, and caused considerable damage to Israel-US relations, we are today rebuilding a relationship of trust with the Congress.”

Hoyer announced on the Floor that the House will consider legislation this week to fully fund Iron Dome.

“We will act to ensure Israel has the ability to defend itself, and I expect strong, bipartisan support for this effort,” he declared.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) stated that “extremists in Congress are playing politics with Israeli and Palestinian lives.”

“Calling to remove funding for a lifesaving defensive system is an affront to our values, risks further conflict, and is counter to the commitment made by Biden and supported by Congressional leadership,” the pro-Israel lobby stated. “It’s simple: Iron Dome saves lives. Blocking funding for Iron Dome helps terrorists kill civilians.”

The defensive system intercepted over 90% of Hamas rockets fired at Israeli cities during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May.

A delay in the funding of the Iron Dome system could spell devastation for the Gaza Strip. If Hamas attacks Israel in the near future, and Israel cannot deploy the Iron Dome system, the IDF will have to move forcefully and swiftly to crush any attacks on Israel. The Iron Dome enables the IDF to manoeuvre in a more moderate and measured way as there is less an immediate threat to Israeli citizens. No Iron Domes means crushing of any Hamas aggression from Gaza.

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