Arutz Sheva interviewed Eli Groner, Israel’s Minister for Economic Affairs to the United States, who participated last week in the AIPAC 2013 policy conference in Washington.

Groner addressed the budget cuts in the U.S., which will also affect its defense aid to Israel. U.S. foreign aid to Israel will drop by $150 million, sources reportedly said this week.

Groner indicated that he doesn’t know exactly how much will be cut, but predicted the cuts would not be as large as some reports have indicated.

“There’s been a number of reports in the media of very large numbers - $500 to $700 million - but we’re pretty confident the final number will be lower than $500,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to say yet how much lower, but it should be lower.”

The U.S., noted Groner, “has severe economic challenges.” He added that the so-called “sequester” - the across-the-board cuts - was offered to Republicans by Democrats, who assumed the Republicans would refuse because of the significant defense cuts involved. However, to the Democrats’ surprise, the Republicans agreed to the sequester.

How will all this affect Israel? “There’s no question that Israel is an export-based economy, and when consumption in the United States goes down, it stands to reason that exports to the United States will go down,” said Gruner.

“The hope and the expectation is that this will be a blip on the radar screen,” he added.

Finally, emphasized Groner, “The relationship between the two countries has never been better. I don’t know if in the history of these two countries there’s been as broad a cooperation on as diverse an array of activities and initiatives as there is today.”