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PM: 'Unequivocal answer' to those who challenge US support

Israeli leaders, US Jews laud House approval of $1 billion for Iron Dome

AIPAC says 420-9 vote ‘repudiates efforts by those in Congress who are pursuing a dangerous agenda to undermine the US-Israel relationship’

A flag of Israel and an American flag are displayed on a table during a meeting between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
A flag of Israel and an American flag are displayed on a table during a meeting between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Israeli officials welcomed the passage of legislation to provide Israel with $1 billion for its Iron Dome missile defense system by an overwhelming majority in the US House of Representatives on Thursday.

“Thank you to the members of the US House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike, for the overwhelming support for Israel and for the commitment to its security,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a statement shortly after the vote. “Whoever tries to challenge this support received an unequivocal answer today. The people of Israel thank the American people and their representatives for their steadfast friendship.”

The Iron Dome Supplemental Appropriations Act passed 420-9 on Thursday with two Democrats, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hank Johnson, effectively abstaining by voting “present.” The vote came days after the funding for the Iron Dome was removed from a government spending bill amid pressure from a small group of progressive lawmakers. The legislation was instead introduced as a standalone bill by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, following pressure from a group of Democratic lawmakers intent on demonstrating their party’s full-throttled support for Israel following earlier events in the week.

Eight Democrats — Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush, Andre Carson, Marie Newman, Jesus Garcia, Raul Grivalva — and one Republican, Rep. Tom Massie voted against the legislation.

Following the vote, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he was “grateful for the overwhelming bipartisan support for Israel and the solid commitment to our security” demonstrated by the vast majority of members of Congress. “This support reaffirms the special relations between our two countries, rooted in shared values and strategic interests.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked the leadership of the House of Representatives and its members “for their commitment to Israel’s security” and for “backing the replenishment of Iron Dome interceptors.” Gantz said that bipartisan support for the Iron Dome “is critical for Israel’s defense against attacks conducted by terrorist groups such as Hamas — but not only. Israel’s borders are surrounded by malign actors who seek to harm civilians and destroy the only Jewish State.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seated for a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Gilad Erdan, the Israeli ambassador to the US and the UN, expressed gratitude to those “who voted in favor of supporting Israel’s security and our strong alliance. The overwhelming bipartisan support of the Iron Dome legislation sends a clear message that America stands [with] Israel on fighting terror.” Erdan called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “a true friend of Israel!”

Reactions to the standalone vote on the Iron Dome funding also rolled in from US Jewish groups.

The AIPAC lobbying group applauded the overwhelming vote by the House of Representatives, saying that it reinforces “the fact that there is a solid bipartisan consensus in support of Israel’s security.” In its statement following the vote, AIPAC said the overwhelming support “also repudiates efforts by those in Congress who are pursuing a dangerous agenda to undermine the US-Israel relationship, weaken Israel’s security and place Israeli and Palestinian lives at even greater risk.”

The Democratic Majority for Israel lobbying group said that passage of the bill shows that “Congress made it clear the United States honors its commitments to its allies — especially Israel.”

The Republican Jewish Committee also welcomed the vote and attacked Democrats who had opposed the funding, including Tlaib, who accused Israel of apartheid during a debate ahead of Thursday’s vote.

” It is disgraceful that eleven congressmen voted to leave Israeli civilians unprotected from terrorist rocket fire. And it is outrageous that Congresswoman Tlaib slandered the State of Israel on the House floor,” RJC head Matt Brooks said in a statement.

The Jewish Federations of North America said the vote served as “a reminder that although a vocal minority in Congress seeks to delegitimize Israel, it does not represent the values of the vast majority of Americans.”

The Iron dome anti-missile system fires an interceptor missile at rockets shot from the Gaza Strip toward Ashkelon, on May 19, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center said it lauded those members of Congress “who did not hesitate to act and replenish this much-needed funding for Iron Dome.” The OU added that it was “troubled that some members of Congress seem to have the misguided view that a missile-defense system does anything other than defend innocent civilians from attacks launched by hostile terrorist groups.”

The clause approving the huge sum to restock Israel’s Iron Dome interceptors — which are crucial to protecting Israeli towns from rocket attacks and whose stocks were depleted somewhat during May’s Gaza war — had caused a hangup in the House of Representatives: Democratic leaders sought to push forward a bill to raise the debt ceiling while progressives in the party, who are critical of Israel, said they wouldn’t vote for it if it included the Iron Dome funding.

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