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House approves $ 1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system

The $ 1 billion in funding for the air defense system was originally included in the must-see legislation the House considered earlier in the week, but the provision was removed from the final version to appease a group of progressives who said they would sink the legislation unless that funding was withdrawn.

The bill is now going to the Senate where it is not known when it will get a vote.

The final vote was 420-9 with two present. Eight Democrats and one Republican voted against the bill.

The Iron Dome air defense system is designed to intercept rockets in flight – targeting them and firing interceptor missiles to destroy them – before they can kill civilians living in Israel. It was originally developed by Israeli defense technology company Rafael, but the system has since been heavily sponsored by the United States.
As of November 2020, the United States had provided Israel $ 1.6 billion for Iron Dome batteries, interceptors, co-production costs and general maintenance, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The legislation will specifically provide funding to replace the missile interceptors that were used in the heavy fighting with Hamas in May.

According to a press release on the legislation, the funding is “in line with the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel, which commits the United States to provide further assistance to replenish the Iron Dome after periods of fight to allow Israel to continue to defend itself against attacks. “

Democratic Rashida Tlaib tweeted his disapproval of the funding before the vote, declaring Wednesday, “I plan to vote against. We must stop allowing human rights violations and Israel’s apartheid government.”
Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar expressed her disapproval of the funding by tweeting on Thursday: “Given the human rights violations in Gaza, Sheikh Jarrah and the ever-increasing settlement expansion, we should not impose on the latest minute a billion dollar increase in military funding for Israel without any liability. ”Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to sit in Congress, and Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress to sit in the House.

But some Democrats were frustrated when the provision was removed from the original bill.

“I’m in disbelief right now,” Representative Dean Phillips, a Jewish Democrat from Minnesota, told CNN.

Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, described her own party’s opposition to the funding as “devoid of substance and irresponsible.”

House Appropriations President Rosa DeLauro expressed her support for the funding, saying in a statement, “The United States’ commitment to the security of our friend and ally Israel is rock-solid. The resupply of the interceptors used to protect Israel from attack is our legal and moral responsibility. “

When Tlaib rose to voice her opposition to the bill, she called the funding “absurd and unjustifiable” and called Israel an “apartheid regime”, which she said were not her words. but the words of Human Rights Watch.

“I firmly believe that our country must oppose the sale of arms to anyone, anywhere without complying with human rights laws,” Tlaib said Thursday.

Florida Democratic Representative Ted Deutch, who is Jewish, dropped his prepared speech to respond to Tlaib.

“I cannot allow a colleague of mine to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and call the Jewish Democratic State of Israel an apartheid state. I reject it,” Deutch said. “If you believe in the need to save lives, Israeli lives and Palestinian lives, I say to my colleague who just smeared our ally, then you will support this legislation.

House approves $ 1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system

Given the narrow margins between the two parties in the House, Democrats can only afford to lose three votes if this bill comes down to a party line vote. But since many Republicans objected to the Democrats’ decision to remove the provision from the House bill earlier in the week, Democrats may not need full support within their party. to pass the bill.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday: “On the very day that President Biden pledged to support our allies, House Democrats voted to deny Israel purely defensive equipment for protect its citizens against terrorist rockets. This decision was political and not “technical”. The Democrats have abandoned our ally to appease the pro-BDS far left radicals who run their party. “

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke to Hoyer on Tuesday evening after money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system was withdrawn from the US government’s funding bill at the last minute.

Lapid said in a statement that the conversation with Hoyer revealed that it was a “technical postponement resulting from the debate in Congress on the US budget deficit cap.”

Before Hoyer announced that he would introduce a separate bill dedicated to passing this funding, a spokesperson for the appropriations committee told CNN that funding for the Iron Dome would be included in the bill. on the 2022 defense. But after Hoyer’s announcement, the spokesperson said if emergency funding to replenish the Iron Dome interceptors passed, the program would not need an additional infusion for that purpose. later in the year.

This story and title was updated to include additional developments on Thursday.