White House opposes proposal to increase military aid for Israel

The White House on Tuesday said that it opposes the House of Representative’s proposal to allot $600 million to the US funding for building Israel’s missile defense arsenal for 2017, Israeli media reports.

The Obama administration outlined its objections to the proposal, which includes a $455 million increase over what the White House originally budgeted, in a letter to congress.

In the letter drafted by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, the administration claims that this would redirect funds away from the US military “at a time when ISIL continues to threaten the homeland and our allies.”

“The bill does not fully fund wartime operations…Instead the bill would redirect $16 billion of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds toward base budget programs that the Department of Defense (DOD) did not request, shortchanging funding for ongoing wartime operations midway through the year,” the letter continues.

“Not only is this approach dangerous but it is also wasteful. The bill would buy excess force structure without the money to sustain it, effectively creating a hollow force structure that would undermine DOD’s efforts to restore readiness,” it added.

The increase was proposed by the Senate Appropriations Committee last month.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) expressed it’s “deep disappointment” in the White House’s opposition.

“On a bipartisan basis, Congress has increased funding above administration requests this year, as it has done for well over a decade,” AIPAC said in a statement.

“These cooperative programs – including the Arrow, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome – are 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.”

Israel and the United States have been negotiating in recent months over a new aid package.

The current security memorandum of understanding between the US and Israel, signed in 2007, is due to expire at the end of 2018. That agreement provided Israel with security aid totaling $30 billion over 10 years.

Israel has been pushing for a substantial increase of $1-2 billion a year, with Netanyahu making intensive diplomatic efforts to boost the overall value of the package to $50 billion, it was reported.

Obama, currently in the last year of his second term, will leave the White House in January 2017.