Wednesday, 27 February 2013

AIPAC takes on the latest threat to Israel — sequestration

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports on AIPAC's legislative agenda for its annual policy conference next week, and while Palestinians aren't mentioned once there is a palpable fear that the aid spigot to Israel is about to turn off, or at least slow down, given the budget face off taking place in Washington. Friday stands as a deadline for Congress and the President to prevent wide-ranging spending cuts and Haaretz's Chemi Shalev writes that Israel stands to lose $175 million if a sequestration deal isn't brokered.
From the JTA:

the agenda will focus on the Congress enacting legislation that would designate Israel a “major strategic ally” of the United States — a relationship not enjoyed by any other nation . . .
The AIPAC official interviewed by JTA said that part of what motivates the push to name Israel a major strategic ally is an appeal to maintain defense assistance funding, averaging more than $3 billion annually, at a time when both parties are seeking ways to drastically cut spending.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrote congressional appropriators last week to warn that across-the-board “sequestration” cuts due to kick in Friday – unless the White House and Congress achieve a compromise – will hit Israel funding, among other things.
“This is no time to cut aid to an ally,” the AIPAC official said. Conferring major strategic ally upon Israel “would mean that the United States and Israel would work together on a cooperative basis on missile defense, homeland security, energy independence, medical research and innovation and military technology,” the official said.
The push to name Israel a major strategic ally comports with a longstanding preference among some leading Republicans to tweak apart assistance for Israel from other foreign aid, which the conservative wing of the party advocates slashing.
The article goes on to explain that the “major strategic ally” designation is also meant to bolster military cooperation between the U.S. and Israel and that a separate nonbinding Senate resolution will be introduced soon calling on President Obama to stand with Israel “if it is compelled to act against the Iranian nuclear threat."

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