Israel a 'Major Strategic Partner' of the U.S.

House of Representatives approves with an overwhelming majority the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act.

Elad Benari ,

Obama and Netanyahu
Obama and Netanyahu

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved with an overwhelming majority a bill which describes Israel as a “major strategic partner” of the U.S. reported that the bill, entitled the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, passed by a 410-1 vote.

The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ed Royce (R-CA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY).

It includes a number of areas of expansion between the two countries, such as expanding forward-deployed U.S. weapons stockpiles in Israel, the transfer of essential military equipment to Israel, assistance for the Iron Dome missile defense system, and the promotion of cooperation in energy, water, science, homeland security, and agriculture.

The bill has been transferred to the Senate for final approval.

The American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) applauded the adoption of the bill, which came one day after the organization’s annual policy conference came to an end.

AIPAC said in a statement quoted by that the bill would “dramatically strengthen the relationship between the two allies as they work to confront new threats and challenges in the Middle East.”

The bill’s approval, which shows the bipartisan support for Israel among American lawmakers, comes at a time when there is seemingly tensions between the U.S. and Israel, particularly over the American push for a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met President Barack Obama at the White House, a meeting in which the issue of the Israeli-PA peace talks was the dominant topic.

A day before the meeting, Obama said bluntly in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg that he would make clear to Netanyahu that time was of the essence in the drive to agree on a framework between the parties.

“When I have a conversation with Bibi, that’s the essence of my conversation,” Obama told Goldberg. “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?”

Nevertheless, despite Obama’s statements in the interview, White House officials said the tone of Monday's talks was not unfriendly.

In fact, the officials said, Obama committed to Netanyahu that he would push the PA to match any Israeli concessions as part of a future peace deal.