(Bloomberg) — For the second consecutive year, Israeli officials have asked the U.S. Congress to add more than $300 million to President Barack Obama’s budget request for their nation’s missile-defense programs.
The $317 million wish list that Israeli’s missile defense chief gave lawmakers this month is in addition to the $158 million the Pentagon proposed for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The Israeli request would provide first-time production funds for two programs — David’s Sling and Arrow-3.
Israel’s latest lobbying on Capitol Hill, instead of through the White House and Pentagon, comes at a low point in political relations between the U.S. and Israel over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress on March 3 to derail what he calls an emerging “bad deal” by the Obama administration to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Yair Ramati, the director of Israel’s missile defense organization, visited lawmakers and aides to the congressional defense committees on Feb. 2 and 3 to outline the case for more money and thank them for past assistance, according to people familiar with the meetings who asked not to be identified describing the private discussions. Obama’s proposed budget was released on Feb. 2.
The U.S. provides funds for Israel’s missile defenses — including the Iron Dome interceptors that have gained fame for fending off Hamas rockets from Gaza — separately from the $3.1 billion a year given to Israel in “foreign military financing” to buy weapons through the budget for the State Department and foreign operations.