Israelis were taken aback on Wednesday over news that the US Congress had removed critical funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile shield from a budgetary bill set to be passed by the end of the month.
During the latest Gaza war back in May of this year, Israel had to use a significant portion of its Iron Dome interceptor missiles to defend against waves of terrorist rockets. Washington at the time pledged to help Israel replenish that stockpile in preparation for any future confrontations.
Toward that end, the Democratic Party leadership added $1 billion to a budgetary bill that will raise America’s debt ceiling and keep the government funded through the end of the year.
But this week, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) succeeded in having the $1 billion in funding for Israel removed from the bill. She insisted that the move was in response to Israel’s “bombing of Palestinian civilians.”
In this year’s NDAA, I’ve intro’d 7 amendments, including blocking specific US weapons transactions to:
– Saudi gov over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi
– Colombia gov over its violent crackdown on protesters,&
– Israeli gov over the bombing of Palestinian civilians, media centers https://t.co/eMHIApDLAk
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 17, 2021
Desperate to pass the budgetary bill by the end of September, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to remove the $1 billion for Israel, lest she lose the support of AOC and other progressives in Congress.
The extra funding for Israel, which is supported by both the Biden White House and the Pentagon, will now be attached to the 2022 Defense Appropriations Bill and is almost certain to eventually pass. Just not when Israel was hoping it would.
Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan called out AOC and her colleagues for putting the Jewish state in danger.
“I would expect a Congressperson to understand that Israel is defending its citizens against Hamas, a designated terrorist organization,” Erdan tweeted. “Your amendment further legitimizes their heinous attacks against innocent civilians, as well as antisemitic lies.”
I would expect a Congressperson to understand that Israel is defending its citizens against Hamas, a designated terrorist organization.
Your amendment further legitimizes their heinous attacks against innocent civilians, as well as antisemitic lies. 1/2 https://t.co/kUHe2Y3rYa
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) September 19, 2021
The Israeli ambassador went on to note that strong defense cooperation between the US and Israel also helps to “prevent terrorist attacks against American citizens.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was even more incensed. A statement released by the organization read:
“Extremists in Congress are playing politics with Israeli & 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 & supported by Congressional leadership.
“It’s simple: Iron Dome saves lives. Blocking funding for Iron Dome helps terrorists kill civilians.”