[QODLink]
Americas
US seeks extra $70m for Israel defence shield
Pentagon requests Congress to provide Israel with additional funding for its "Iron Dome" missile defence programme.
Last Modified: 18 May 2012 07:56
Leon Panetta, right, told Ehud Barak, left, the Pentagon would seek extra funding for the Iron Dome system [AFP]

The US plans to give Israel the extra $70m that it asked for this year for its short-range missile defence programme known as the "Iron Dome," Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary has said.

Panetta on Thursday said his department would seek additional funding for the programme over the next three years "based on an annual assessment of Israeli security requirements".

He said Barack Obama, the US president, had directed him to fill Israel's request for the extra money for the system, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars.

Panetta's statement came after a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The US has already provided $205m for the system and annually gives Israel roughly another $3.1bn in overall security assistance, the most for any foreign country.

However, top Republicans have criticised Obama for what they described as inadequate funding of US-Israeli missile defence co-operation in his 2013 budget request, released in February amid deficit-reduction requirements.

Obama's fiscal 2013 budget request calls for $30bn in funding for Israel over a 10-year peried, none of which was scheduled to fund Iron Dome.

'Highly appreciative'

Legislation moving through the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives would give Israel an additional $680m for the Iron Dome system through 2015, and some members are seeking a deal with Israel to share production of the programme with US weapons manufacturers.

"My goal is to ensure Israel has the funding it needs each year to produce these batteries that can protect its citizens," Panetta's statement said.

He said the $70m would be provided this fiscal year, which ends in September.

"This is assistance that, provided Congress concurs, we can move quickly, to ensure no shortage in this important system," Panetta said.

Barak meanwhile spoke to reporters after meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington later on Thursday.

"I was at the Pentagon," he said. "And we are highly appreciative of the approach of this administration, of the secretary, secretary of defence and of course of the president in regard to the security of Israel, making sure that in our tough neighbourhood, Israel will be strong and secure."

The additional funding for Israel requires US congressional approval before it is allocated - something it is likely to get.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list