This bill would maintain U.S. military aid to Israel and expand joint security programs in a variety of ways. In terms of direct security assistance, it would authorize foreign military financing for Israel at the levels set in the Memorandum of Understanding reached in 2016 (see JPS 46 ); extend the Israeli government’s authority to access the war reserves stockpile in Israel and certain loan guarantees through FY2023; and direct the president to report to Congress on the reasons why Israel has not yet been made eligible for a strategic trade authorization exemption. It would also authorize the president to conduct a joint assessment with the Israeli government on the quantity and type of precision-guided munitions the IDF would need to combat Hezbollah and Hamas and authorize the president to transfer such munitions and related materials to Israel “as necessary for self-defense.”
In terms of cooperative programs, it would direct the secretary of state to establish a grant-making program to support joint cybersecurity research and development, and commercialization of related technologies; direct the administrator of NASA to continue working with the Israel Space Agency in pursuit of “peaceful space exploration and science initiatives in areas of mutual interest”; authorize the administrator of USAID to reach a Memorandum of Understanding with Israel “in order to advance common goals on energy, agriculture and food security, democracy, human rights and governance, economic growth and trade, education, environment, global health and water sanitation”; and authorize the president to make an agreement with Israel on joint research, development, testing, evaluation, and production of anti-drone technology.
Finally, the bill would direct the president to include consideration of cybersecurity, drones, and a number of other new issues in his report to Congress on Israel’s “qualitative military edge”; and reaffirm the U.S. policy to maintain Israel’s “ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military or emerging threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors.”
Like H.R. 5132 of 3/1/18, this bill was a key ask at the American Israel Public Affairs Comm.’s annual lobbying day in early 3/2018.