Israel Won’t Fight Military Aid Cut

YERUSHALAYIM -

Across-the-board cuts in Washington will mean a five-percent cut in the annual military aid package to Israel, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won’t be fighting it, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported.

Under the sequester, mandated by 2011 legislation, Washington will reduce by more than $150 million the annual $3.1 billion package to Israel.

Netanyahu instructed Israeli officials in Washington not to ask the U.S. government to make an exception from the cuts, according to the media reports.

“Israel did not seek an exception,” said Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington. “We are willing to share in the burden.”

The planned cuts will likely affect Israel’s ability to purchase advanced F-35 stealth fighters, according to the report, 19 of which were supposed to be delivered in 2016.

Because of budgetary cuts in Washington, the Pentagon has slashed production of the F-35s, from 2,500 to 1,200 planes, which will raise the price tag on each fighter.

The cuts are also expected to affect future joint military exercises between the two countries.

However, $220 million President Barack Obama has allocated for the Iron Dome missile- defense system, was left untouched.

Appropriators in the House of Representatives have approved that sum, as well as an increase to $270 million of Obama’s $173 million request for missile-defense cooperation programs separate from Iron Dome.