Washington, D.C. –U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, spoke today in favor of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act (S 2165), which reaffirms the U.S. commitment to Israel. The bill also calls on the U.S. to provide Israel with the military capabilities to defend itself and expand military and civilian cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. The measure passed the House by voice vote. Ros-Lehtinen made the following remarks in support of the bill:
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“For over sixty four years, since the United States recognized Israel just eleven minutes after its creation, the democratic, Jewish State of Israel has been one of our closest allies. Our shared commitment to peace, prosperity, and peace has been the foundation of special bond that has reinforced the safety and security of both of our nations. We have forged a defense partnership that has yielded advanced technologies and policies that have benefitted both of our nations, and helped to keep our citizens secure.
“Our fates are tied together—a threat to one of our countries is a threat to both. And so, as the Iranian regime continues to race towards nuclear weapons, and sponsor violent extremists like Hamas and Hezbollah, we must work together to counter this growing threat. And while the United States and Israel are targeted by many of the same threats, Israel’s proximity to the Iran-Syria-Hamas-Hezbollah nexus leaves no room for error.
“Our goal with this legislation is to ensure that Israel has the ability to protect its citizens against the dangers that touch their lives every day—against the rockets, against the bombs, against the missiles that their enemies stockpile while making well-publicized threats against the Jewish state. How do we achieve this goal? By increasing the totality of our bilateral security relations.
“That means increasing joint missile defense systems, joint military exercises, and intelligence cooperation. We get to learn from them, they get to learn from us, and we all sleep a little more soundly knowing that we have done all we can to help our citizens. It also means providing increased excess defense articles and munitions to Israel. With these host of entities stirring the pot of hostility against the Jewish state, it is critical that the United States stand foursquare with Israel.
“This legislation also extends the authority to provide loan guarantees to the Israel government that provide the Jewish state with a cushion of support in times of need, at no cost to the American taxpayer. Our ally Israel needs our help, and we are well situated to lend our friend a hand, while strengthening our own security in the process. Let us stand together today and say that we support a strong and secure Israel—not only because Israel is our friend and ally, but also because a strong and secure Israel, means a strong and secure America.
“Now is a particularly important time to send that message, as we face the looming specter of sequestration that we are all talking about and working hard to prevent. If nothing is done to avert sequestration, we will face almost a 450-million-dollar cut to U.S. security assistance for Israel. This would include over 100 million in cuts to cooperative missile defense programs. These would damage the security of our nation and our ally Israel, and they must be averted. I urge my colleagues to pass the legislation before us.”