House Votes to Strengthen U.S.-Israel Relationship

YERUSHALAYIM -

The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday passage of the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014.

The legislation, authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), calls for expanding the reserve of U.S. weapons stockpiled in Israel and recommends that Israel join the U.S. visa waiver program, allowing for unfettered travel between the countries once Israel meets its requirements.

It names Israel as a “major strategic ally” of the United States — no other nation has that status — and includes measures that would encourage enhanced cooperation such as missile development, energy and homeland security.

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded passage of the Act, saying,  “From a regime in Tehran that is seeking to acquire a nuclear weapons capability and the missiles to deliver nuclear weapons; to Iran’s proxy Hizbullah, which is greatly expanding its size and influence in Israel’s neighbor Syria, pointing tens of thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli population centers; to the proliferation of al-Qaida-affiliated organizations throughout the region; to the ongoing threat from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad — Israel now faces grave threats.

“This legislation stands by our values; stands by our interests; and stands by Israel.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which has fully backed the bill, said it would “dramatically strengthen the relationship between the two allies as they work to confront new threats and challenges in the Middle East.”