The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has endorsed a $488 million increase in military aid to Israel, which would pay for Israel's procurement and development of additional rocket and missile interception systems.
The committee last week approved the defense authorization bill proposal submitted by its chairman, California Republican Howard McKeon. According to the wording of the proposal, the U.S. will allocate another $268 million to Israel in 2014 for the development of two interception systems: the Arrow 3, which intercepts long-range missiles, and the Magic Wand, which intercepts medium-range missiles.
This is a larger investment than initially planned. The bill also states that a further $220 million will be allocated in 2014 to finance the purchase of extra batteries for the Iron Dome missile defense system. The proposal must now be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations. It will be submitted to the Senate at a later stage.
Israel currently has five Iron Dome batteries. The plan will give Israel another five batteries by the end of next year.
The U.S. also gives Israel $3.1 billion in military aid annually. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel promised that this would not be reduced even while significant cuts are being made to the U.S. defense budget.
Despite frequent disputes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government regarding the peace process with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear threat, U.S. President Barack Obama's administration continues to be extraordinarily generous when it comes to granting military aid. Israeli defense officials see last week's decision as further evidence of the strength of the relationship between the two countries.