Newsletter : 16fx0615.txt
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Obama Opposes Congress' Proposal to Increase Aid to Israel
By Reuters & IsraelNationalNews.com
The White House announced on Tuesday that it opposes the addition of $455 million to
the budget to finance Israel's anti-missile defense, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. The
announcement came following a decision by Congress to increase the aid to Israel, and in
light of the disagreements between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government
on the new defense aid agreement.
In a "Statement of Administration Policy" released by the White House's Office of
Management and Budget and quoted by Jewish Insider, the administration said it "opposes
the addition of $455 million above the FY 2017 Budget request for Israeli missile defense
procurement and cooperative development programs."
Last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $600 million in funding for
fiscal year 2017, an increase of $113 million from last year and $454 million over Obama's
request, noted Jewish Insider.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) responded to the statement by
saying it was "deeply disappointed" that the increased funding has been objected by the
administration. "On a bipartisan basis, Congress has increased funding above
administration requests this year, as it has done for well over a decade," AIPAC said,
according to the Jewish Insider.
"These cooperative programsincluding the Arrow, David's Sling, and Iron
Domeare critical for Israel's defense against a growing array of missile threats and
make an important contribution to U.S. missile defense programs. We applaud Congress for
consistently supporting these key programs, and urge their full funding in both the FY
2017 National Defense Authorization and Appropriations Acts."
The White House's announcement comes amid continued negotiations between the United
States and Israel on the next aid package to Israel. The current defense agreement between
Israel and the United States remains in force until 2018, and Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu has been urged to accept President Barack Obama's 10-year military aid package
which reportedly includes a total of $145.8 million for Israeli missile defense programs,
a sharp drop in financial support.
A total of $3 billion in defense aid is given annually, but Netanyahu has asked for an
increase to $5 billion annually, in light of the greater need for security due to the
growing Iranian threat after the nuclear deal.
Last week, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice promised Israel that the new
military aid agreement between the two countries that is currently being negotiated will
constitute "the single largest military assistance package with any country
in American history."
She said the new decade-long aid package, which is expected to provide Israel somewhere
between $37.5 billion and $40 billion over the life of the pact, will "constitute a
significant increase in support," providing funding to update Israel's aircraft fleet and
strengthen missile defenses.
Senior Hamas Commander 'Defects to Israel'
A senior commander in Hamas' elite commando unit has handed himself over to Israel,
according to sources inside Gaza cited by Channel 2. Reports of his surrender to Israel
have been circulating in Gaza ever since the commander - a member the elite "Nahba" unit
of Hamas' military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades - went missing several days
The Nahba spearheads Hamas' tunnel warfare capabilities, and is specifically tasked
with capturing IDF soldiers. The missing commander is reportedly from Khan Younis in
southern Gaza, and the son of a prominent judge on Hamas' Sharia religious court.
According to Channel 2, a number of different "versions" of his disappearance are making
the rounds in Gaza.
Hamas, for its part, maintains he was captured by Israeli security forces, who have
nabbed a number of (generally more junior) Hamas operatives involved in tunnel digging
over the past several months.
But other sources say he told his family he was going for a hike and would return by
evening - only to cross over the border into Israel. Either way, capturing such a senior
Hamas commander would represent a major intelligence coup for Israeli security
If confirmed, the unidentified commander would be the second senior Al Qassam Brigades
terrorist captured by Israel in recent months, after Mohammed Atounah was captured as he
allegedly crossed the border into Israel to carry out a terrorist attack. Atounah's
capture provided Israel with a wealth of information about Hamas' tunnel network,
preparations for future battle with Israel and overall military capabilities.
His capture, together with that of several other Qassam Brigades commanders and other
Israeli intelligence measures, have enabled the IDF to locate and destroy two terror
tunnels into Israel in May.
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