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US Congress passes defense bill with at least $540 million earmarked for Israel’s anti-missile, counter-drone systems

DEFEND act strategizes how Abraham Accords partners can combat Iranian aggression in the region

An Iron Dome Missile Defense battery set up near the southern Israeli city Ashdod fires an intercepting missile on July 14, 2014. (Photo: David Buimovitch/Flash90)

The United States Congress passed its annual defense bill, authorizing life-saving pro-Israel initiatives, as well as further aid for Ukraine and a pay raise for U.S. military service members. 

The $858 billion bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act also repeals the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the U.S. Armed Forces. Republicans applauded the measure, which was referred to as a “mistake” by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre earlier this week. 

The U.S. Senate voted 83-11 on Thursday and sent the legislation to President Joe Biden for his signature before the end of the year. Five Republicans and six Democrats opposed the bill. 

The Defense Authorization Act allocates $500 million for Israeli anti-missile defense systems such as the Iron Dome, David’s Sling – which protects Israel from long-range threats – and Arrow, an interceptor system that can destroy threats carrying payloads meant for mass destruction. 

This year’s defense act increases the budget allocated for U.S.-Israel counter-drone cooperation to $40 million, from $25 million last year. 

The DEFEND Act, which appears in the bill’s critical pro-Israel provisions, aims to unite America’s Middle East partners, promoting regional missile defense cooperation between the U.S., Israel and its Arab partners. 

The joint effort by Congress is meant to forward a strategy for Abraham Accords and other countries to combat the Iranian aggression which threatens peace and security in the Middle East.

AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby in Washington, hailed the authorization of funding for vital programs that “help keep Israelis safe and America strong,” according to its statement on social media. “Israeli innovation in counter-drone technology helps secure Americans at home and prevent attacks against our citizens abroad.”

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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