07.11.18

FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ADVANCES RUBIO-COONS BILL TO ENHANCE SECURITY ASSISTANCE TO ISRAEL

Washington, D.C. — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) to authorize at least $3.3 billion in annual security assistance to Israel.  

“As the Jewish state of Israel faces volatile threats from Iran, Syria’s Assad regime, Hizballah, Hamas and other malign actors, I commend my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for passing this bipartisan bill to further strengthen our critical and strategic alliance with Israel,” Rubio said. “It is in America’s national security interest to ensure that Israel, a fellow democracy and most important ally in the Middle East, always has the capabilities to defend itself amid the region’s growing dangers.” 

“The passage of this bipartisan legislation represents the continuation of America’s unshakable, seven-decade commitment to Israel’s security,” Coons said. “The security assistance included in this bill will help Israel protect itself in the midst of regional instability; deter – and if necessary defend against – Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas; and deepen bilateral ties for the next decade and beyond.” 

BACKGROUND 

The U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act:

·         Authorizes the State Department to extend no less than $3.3 billion annually in foreign military financing (FMF) to Israel over the next 10 years through 2028.  This is consistent with the new U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding. 

·         Extends war reserve stockpile authority in Israel for five years (2018-2023).  While the United States stores missiles, armored vehicles, artillery ammunition, and other materiel in Israel, the Israeli government can request permission to pay to use some of this equipment in the event of a conflict or emergency. 

·         Extends loan guarantees to Israel for five years (2018-2023).  Israel has never defaulted on a U.S.-backed loan guarantee, and this program helps to provide “rainy day” insurance for Israel’s stability given the many threats that it faces in the Middle East. 

·         Reiterates that it is U.S. policy to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East.

·         Authorizes the transfer of precision guided munitions (PGMs) and related defense articles and services to the reserve stocks in Israel for self-defense purposes.

·         The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a similar version of the Rubio-Coons legislation on May 9.