Iron Dome anti-missile battery near Haifa
Iron Dome anti-missile battery near HaifaFlash 90

Despite pledges by US President Barack Obama and key congressional leaders to shield the Israeli Iron Dome from sequestration cuts, Israel has offered to waive funding protection, reports Defense News, which says Israel has been “insisting it should bear its share of the burden.”

“Our position is we must bear the burden that our American friends are bearing,” Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, told the website in an interview to be published in an upcoming edition. Sources from both countries told the website that this is “a painful, yet pragmatic price for the goodwill to be generated among longtime supporters in Washington.” 

Alan Makovsky, who recently retired as senior staff member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was surprised by the news, even using the analogy of "man bites dog" to express the novelty of the idea.

“Assuming this is accurate," he said, "it’s a very magnanimous, yet very wise decision on their [Israel’s] part. It shows friendship, appreciation and sympathy for our fiscal difficulties … even to the point of giving up special favors which it’s fair to say Congress would have been willing to grant, considering the threats they face.”

He added, “The goodwill they will engender will be far more valuable than the funds they forego.”

During Obama’s visit to Israel last March, he said he was “pleased to announce that we will take steps to ensure that there is no interruption of funding for Iron Dome.” At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama emphasized that he intends to work with Congress for funding Israel's defenses against a growing rocket and missile threat.

According to sources cited by Defense News, “the amount that would be shielded from some 9 percent in automatic cuts triggered by sequestration is $607.3 million for Iron Dome over the 2013-2015 three-year budgetary period. That means Israel is voluntarily forgoing some $54.7 million given the 9 percent sequester.”

Israel is also slated to receive another $65.8 million in Arrow-2 Weapon System funds, $181.7 million for the Upper Tier Arrow-3, $213.9 million for David’s Sling.

Similarly, Israel has not requested, nor was it promised, exemption from the approximately 5 percent sequester on its annual $3.1 billion in grant foreign military financing aid scheduled over the next three years.

Netanyahu has advocated a lessening of Israeli dependence on U.S. aid for many years. In his first tenure as prime minister, a process of cancelling non-military aid was embarked upon.