Levine: Obama Has Kept His Promise to Israel

— by Danielle Lehrer

In an op-ed written in The Forward, former Representative Mel Levine (D-CA) asserts that President Barack Obama has kept his promise to stand with Israel against rocket attacks.

Extract follows the jump.
During his first term as president, Barack Obama has made good on this assurance. Most recently, on May 17, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the United States would immediately provide Israel with $70 million for the purchase of additional rocket defense batteries. This aid comes after the Obama administration had already given Israel $205 million in 2011, in addition to the $3 billion Israel receives in annual foreign aid…

American funding for David’s Sling, Israel’s missile-defense system, more than doubled over the last four years – from $52 million during the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration to $110.5 million this year. Funding for the advanced system, developed to defend against the ballistic- and cruise-missile threat from Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, has increased every year since President Obama took office in 2009. The system’s interceptor missile, the Stunner, has already been successfully tested, and the first operational David’s Sling battery is scheduled to be deployed in early 2013…

The Obama administration has expanded military cooperation with Israel in other vital ways as well. In late 2009, more than 1,400 American service members participated in Operation Juniper Cobra, the largest joint American-Israeli military exercise in history. An even bigger joint drill is scheduled for October, and will include the establishment of American command posts in Israel and a reciprocal arrangement at United States European Command headquarters in Germany.

President Obama has taken unparalleled steps to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge and ensure that the Jewish state is prepared to defend itself against a multitude of ever-present threats. The Obama administration has, in word and deed, strengthened America’s enduring commitment to Israel’s security – just ask the Israeli leadership.

After the recent announcement of new Iron Dome funding, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak agreed that the U.S.- Israeli defense relationship had never been stronger: ‘The U.S. decision to support further enhancing Israel’s security is an important demonstration of the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel.’  Speaking to claims by the U.S. administration of unprecedented cooperation between the two countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said of President Obama: ‘He has backed those words with deeds.’

Obama Signs US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act

— by David A. Harris

Friday’s action by the President is an important step forward for the U.S.-Israel relationship — and only the latest demonstration of President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security. Once again, this President has taken a firm stand in support of Israel and we applaud him for signing the U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Act of 2012 — as all members of the pro-Israel community should. With today’s signing, there should be no doubt that this pro-Israel President stands squarely behind Israel.

In addition to reaffirming the U.S.’s commitment to Israel, the U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 resolves to provide Israel with military support, veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations, expand cooperation with Israel across many facets of society, and assist with ongoing peace efforts with the Palestinians — all as President Obama has done. The bill also states that the U.S. will support all efforts to strengthen Israel’s missile defense, including the Iron Dome system — which is one of the President’s signature pro-Israel accomplishments.

Transcript of Obama’s remarks at the signing follows the jump.
Pool Report

The President was accompanied by the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and the original sponsor in the House, Howard Berman (D-CA). The White House identified the other three guests as Richard Stone, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Lee Rosenberg, chairman of the board of AIPAC; and Howard Friedman, past chair of the AIPAC board.

The bipartisan bill passed the Senate June 29 by voice vote, and by voice vote in the House July 17.

Remarks by President Obama at Signing of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act

Hello, everybody.  Hope you guys are all staying cool.  Well, listen, I just wanted to welcome these outstanding leaders to the Oval Office.  I want to in particular acknowledge Congressman Howard Berman and Senator Barbara Boxer, who have done outstanding work in shepherding through this bipartisan piece of legislation that underscores our unshakeable commitment to Israel.

As many of you know, I have made it a top priority for my administration to deepen cooperation with Israel across the whole spectrum of security issues — intelligence, military, technology.  And, in many ways, what this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen, really, at an unprecedented level between our two countries that underscore our unshakeable commitment to Israel security.

I’m also very pleased that this week we are going to be able to announce $70 million in additional spending … in additional spending for Iron Dome.  This is a program that has been critical in terms of providing security and safety for the Israeli families.  It is a program that has been tested and has prevented missile strikes inside of Israel.  And it is testimony to the leadership of the folks sitting here that we’re going to be able to lock in that fund to assure that that program continues and that we are standing by our friends in Israel when it comes to these kinds of attacks.

Let me just close by saying that the tragic events that we saw in Bulgaria emphasize the degree to which this continues to be a challenge not just for Israel, but for the entire world — preventing terrorist attacks and making sure the people of Israel are not targeted.

And I hope that, as I sign as this bill, once again everybody understands how committed all of us are — Republicans and Democrats — as Americans to our friends in making sure that Israel is safe and secure.

Leon Panetta, our Secretary of Defense, will be traveling to Israel to further consult and find additional ways that we can ensure such cooperation at a time when, frankly, the region is experiencing heightened tensions.

So, with that, let me sign this bill.  Again, I want to thank all who are standing beside me for their outstanding leadership and their outstanding work on this issue.