Israeli Defense Officials Fear U.S. Aid Cuts

Ad Feedback—JERUSALEM—Some Israeli defense leaders are concerned that the Obama Administration may threaten cuts in aid to Israel as a means to restrict Israel's policy on Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. 

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is coming to Israel again this week, and in advance of his visit one senior defense ministry official told The Jerusalem Post.

"Mitchell is a known opponent of the outposts and the settlements. The Americans may try to use the military aid as a way of pressuring the new government into dismantling outposts and freezing construction in settlements."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is also reported to have raised the issue of possible cuts, but officials in the Prime Minister's office and the Foreign Ministry say they are not aware of plans for any reduction in aid.

Under an agreement signed in 2007, Israel is to receive $30 billion over a ten year period.  Three quarters of that money would be for the purchase of weapons manufactured in the US.

This week, after seeing some of the destruction from Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" in the Gaza Strip, a visiting U.S. congressman says he'll urge that the Obama administration reassess America's military aid to Israel. 

"If our colleagues had seen what we have seen, I think their understanding of the situation would be significantly impacted," Rep.Brian Baird, D-Wash., said. "They would care what happened to the Palestinians." 

Baird was less vocal about addressing eight years Hamas of rocket fire on Israeli communities and the need for Israel to defend itself.

Although support for military aid remains high in both houses of Congress, the defense establishment in Israel is worried that politically motivated reductions in aid for the Jewish state might be disguised as cutbacks due to the global recession.

Source:  The Jerusalem Post

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