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US Senate backs $500 million fund for Israel missile defense system

Jerusalem24– The US Senate has officially requested the allocation of $500 million in funding for Israel’s joint missile defense program with the US for the year 2023.

In a letter obtained by Jewish Currents, a total of 44 Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, addressed the request to the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee ahead of the budgeting for the fiscal year 2023.

The $500 million in funding is part of a $3.8 billion annual defense assistance package for Israel that was written into law in a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, and is due to run until 2028.

The US House of Representatives approved an additional $1 billion funding for Israel’s Iron Dome in March this year, in addition to the annual $3.8 billion.

The joint missile defense program covers all four operational layers of Israel’s missile defense system, including the Iron Dome, and three medium- to long-range defense systems. The Senate letter highlights concerns over what it says are increased use and sales of drones (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) by Iran.

The Senate request comes two weeks after the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces, as several US lawmakers reiterate calls to make US aid to Israel conditional on ceasing its violations of Palestinian rights.

Defense for Children International–Palestine (DCI-P), which has given backing to successive bills introduced by US lawmakers to impose conditions on aid to Israel, tells Jerusalem24 that “this is the only way to obligate Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international rights and humanitarian law.”

“We do not expect that these bills or acts will succeed,” says Ayed Qteish, Accountability Program Director at DCI-P. “But […] the symbolic part of introducing such legislation is very important to highlight Israeli legislation.”

Qteish says the bills garner an increasing number of supporters in Congress each time they’re introduced. “We hope that at some point in the future we’ll come to a place where these bills have succeeded.”

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