The House of Representatives today took a major step today toward funding 10 additional batteries of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defense system when the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces include $680 million for the program in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. It is expected to be approved by the full committee in mid-May and go to the House for final passage.
Iron Dome has broad bipartisan support in the Congress and the backing of the administration. About 80 House members have already cosponsored the Iron Dome Support Act, introduced by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-CA), a prime mover in bringing Iron Dome to congressional attention and mobilizing broad support. The bill is cosponsored by the top Republicans and Democrats on both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees.
“Iron Dome is a game changer, saving innocent lives and protecting Israelis. Securing additional funding to deploy additional Iron Dome batteries is an Israeli necessity, an American priority, and a strategic imperative,” Berman said.
The new legislation will provide for 10 new Iron Dome batteries to be deployed all around Israel over the next four years; three are already operation and a fourth about to go into service. The Israeli government has said it will pay part of the costs.
On Yom Ha'atzmaut this week, Berman wrote an op-ed article in JTA calling Iron Dome "an investment in Mideast stability." He wrote:
"The success of the Iron Dome is great news for Israel – and for the United States. Not only does it reduce the likelihood of Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict, but it also eliminates the ability of Palestinian extremists to draw Israel into deadly armed conflict.
"Reducing that prospect has many salutary effects. It removes an impediment to negotiations, should Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ever decide he is ready to negotiate. And it limits the prospect that another Middle East crisis will emerge when the Iranian nuclear threat, the civil war in Syria and uncertainty in Egypt already pose a significant threat to U.S. and Israeli security.
"Only three Iron Dome batteries are now operational, which is a problem for Israel. Israel was lucky this time because it was only attacked on the Gaza front. But Israel is also vulnerable in the north of the country, where just across the border, Hezbollah has its own arsenal of Iranian-provided rockets laying in wait. A two-front rocket war is a distinct possibility in the future. And the collapse of law and order in the Sinai, from where a rocket was recently fired at Eilat, adds an ominous new threat."