(AFP) – Jun 27, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US Congress has approved a 170 million dollar increase in security assistance to Israel as part of its new 10-year, 30 billion dollar defense aid commitment to the Jewish state.
The money for Israel was part of a larger supplemental spending bill that included 162 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation gained final approval in a 92-6 Senate vote late Thursday.
America's pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, welcomed the congressional action, saying it would increase US aid to Israel to 2.55 billion dollars in fiscal year 2009, up from 2.38 billion dollars this year.
"The US commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge is the cornerstone of American policy in the region," AIPAC said in a statement Friday.
"This year's package holds heightened significance for US security interests, as the US and Israel face new challenges from Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons as well as the growing influence of radical anti-western forces to Israel's south in Gaza and to the north in Lebanon."
The package was unveiled by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on July 30 as part of a new military pact with US allies in the Middle East in a bid to "counter the negative influences" of militant groups Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah as well as arch enemies Iran and Syria.
The aid includes a 20 billion dollar weapons package for Saudi Arabia, a 13 billion dollar package for Egypt, and reportedly arms deals worth at least 20 billion dollars for other Gulf states.
The military aid to Israel reflected an increase in value of more than 25 percent, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said, describing the package as a considerable improvement and very important element for national security.
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