Progressive pushback briefly halts US military aid to Israel Iron Dome

The House Democratic leadership was forced to withdraw the additional military sanction of $1 billion to Israel Iron Dome momentarily as the Progressives threatened to tank the emergency bill.

The House Democrat leadership’s last-minute request to sneak in an additional $1 billion US military funding towards Israel’s Iron Dome system was foiled by a Progressive pushback.

The move proves to be a bold muscle-flexing to halt US military aid to Israel’s defence system, an unthinkable act before the May 2021 violence. The 11-day violence purported by Israel prompted many to reconsider the US consensus on Israel.

The request was part of a bill to fund the US government agencies till December 3, making it must-pass legislation to continue functioning. The government could see a shut down by the end of this month if the bill is not passed. Congress will then seek to pass the funding bill for the entire year in December.

Moderate Democrats come out against opposition to funding

The moderate Democrats have also come out against their colleagues for opposing the Iron Dome funding on social media. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin has said that the pushback was an attempt to attack anything and everything related to Israeli defence.

She added that the funding was a part of the 2016 memorandum of understanding (MoU) negotiated by the Obama administration. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden had also promised to replenish the Israeli defence system after the end of May 2021 violence between Hamas and Israel. According to CNN, Democrats have pledged to bring up a separate bill for additional funding to Israel’s defence system.

The US provision to fund Israel Iron Dome

The $1-billion US military aid would have enhanced Israel’s capacity to spend the amount on Iron Dome stocking for the next three years, according to the draft version of the bill. The $1-billion funding was added to the annual $3.8-billion military aid to Israel.

According to the MoU negotiated by the Obama administration in 2016, Israel would not ask for more money than the $3.8 billion annual aid. However, the middle-eastern country could seek more money for missile defence funding in ‘exceptional circumstances’ like ‘major conflict’.

The House leader decided to remove the bill after Progressive leaders threatened to tank the bill over the Iron Dome funding. But experts quote it as interim relief. Considering the general US bias towards Israel, the Dome system is a tough target to mobilize against. 

This Dome system may be represented as a defence system to save Israeli lives. It is difficult to rally enough members of Congress by the activists to reject the funding democratically.

What is the Israel Iron Dome?

Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defence system. It was designed by the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Israel Aerospace Industries to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired between distances of 4 km and 70 km away, directed at populous Israeli towns. During the May 2021 violence, the Iron Dome shot down 90% of the rockets directed towards Israel.

The Iron Dome funding request

The Iron Dome funding request is a part of the hangover of the latest violence between Israel and Palestine in May. Israel’s attempt to evict Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem had prompted Palestinian groups in Gaza to fire rockets at Israel, which led to Israeli aerial strikes in the Gaza strip. The 11-day violence killed 260 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.

 Right after the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, the state officials publicly accepted the need for funds to restock the Iron Dome. Within three months, without any public debate, the request fund its place in a US legislation bill.  

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