U.S. budget fight could endanger military aid to Israel
According to the Israeli financial web site Globes, the coming budget sequester in Washington D.C. could seriously affect aid to Israel, especially the all-important Iron Dome and other missile defense systems.
The article, published Wednesday, states that the March 1 sequester, which will automatically impose across the board cuts in the U.S. federal budget, "is liable to reduce military aid to Israel by over $700 million in the 2013 fiscal year."
More worrying, however, is that "there is growing concern that US aid this year for Israel's anti-missile programs will not be reduced proportionately, but will be eliminated altogether."
This would adversely affect Israel's entire missile defense infrastructure, including Iron Dome "the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, and David's Sling medium-range anti-missile interceptor."
In order to avoid this, Republicans and Democrats in Congress would have to agree to more specific and limited cuts, rather than the across-the-board sequester. This is considered highly unlikely due to current partisan divisions.
The only other option is for Congress to specifically exempt Israel from the sequester cuts, which Globes claims would be politically impossible. "The rule is simple" for American congressmen, asserts the web site. "My poor country comes first."
The loss of U.S. aid at this point would certainly be a serious problem, but it may also help to wean Israel off of American military and financial aid, something that more and more Israelis have been advocating in recent years.
Israel already manufactures and exports a great deal of its own military equipment, and would likely be capable of becoming self-sufficient in this area if given the proper time and investment. This has already occurred in the area of economics, which is largely free of direct American assistance.
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