With automatic spending cuts bearing down on the Pentagon that will force the US Armed Forces to slash $50 billion in 2014 alone, Israel has waived its ostensible protection from the sequestration cuts, and will thus be eligible to forgo some $55 million in missile defense aid, Defense News reported.
“Our position is we must bear the burden that our American friends are bearing,” the Israeli ambassador in Washington, Michael Oren, told Defense News.
The cuts are the result of an unresolved budget dispute between Congress and the White House.
For the Pentagon, the 9 percent cut could translate into a $500 billion reduction in funding over the coming decade, likely forcing a significant cutback in the number of US troops, who will be “able to go fewer places and do fewer things, especially if crises occurred at the same time in different regions of the world,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in July.
In March, during his first visit to Israel since taking office, President, Barack Obama said, “I’m also pleased to announce that we will take steps to ensure that there is no interruption of funding for Iron Dome. As a result of decisions that I made last year, Israel will receive approximately $200 million this fiscal year and we will continue to work with Congress on future funding of Iron Dome.”
Beyond that pledge, however, there is no clear indication that Israel has in fact been offered shielding from the sequestration cuts. Rep. Peter Roskam, a Republican from Illinois and co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, told The Times of Israel earlier this year that Congress’ friendliness to Israel will not save it from cuts to military aid and joint missile defense projects. Asked whether Israeli security assistance should be exempted from sequestration cuts, as AIPAC has asked, he said, “They can’t. We’re all in it together.”
The Israeli Defense Ministry was unable to respond, saying only that “the matter is still being checked.”
Haviv Rettig Gur contributed to this report