The US Congress on Thursday backed the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual must-pass bill setting policy for the Pentagon, by a vote of 80-8.
The bill includes significant pro-Israel provisions, and the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC commended Congress for the approval, noting in a statement, “These critical provisions will help Israel protect itself against continuing security threats.”
The bipartisan defense measure authorizes $500 million in FY 2023 for US-Israel missile defense cooperation. This includes funds for Israeli procurement of Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow and for bilateral research, development, test, and evaluation.
Other important provisions include, as noted in the AIPAC statement:
- The DEFEND Act, which specifically authorizes the US to cooperate with allies & partners in the Middle East–including those who signed the Abraham Accords–to develop & implement an air & missile defense architecture to defend against Iran.
- Increases in the authorization for the US-Israel Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) program from $25 to $40 million per year.
- The Iran Nuclear Weapons Capability Monitoring Act, which establishes a joint task force led by the U.S. Department of State to monitor and regularly report to the appropriate congressional committees on Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile activities.
The US has continuously provided Israel with defense aid, including in the 2016 memorandum of understanding signed during the Obama administration that guarantees Israel $38 billion in security assistance over 10 years, protecting the assistance from the whims of any current or future president.
Following Operation Guardian of the Walls in May of 2021, US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Israel would ask the US for $1 billion in aid to replenish the Iron Dome missile defense system.
This past March, the US Senate approved by a majority of 68 to 31 an omnibus spending package which includes defense aid for Israel. The legislation includes more than $4.8 million in aid for Israel and $1 billion in additional funding for Iron Dome.