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Friday, August 22, 2014

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Sequester cuts to Israel expected to be $155 million

Tags: International
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WASHINGTON —The sequester is expected to cost Israel $155 million in defense assistance.

A senior staffer on the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee told JTA that defense assistance to Israel would likely be cut by 5 percent, or between $150 million and $160 million of the $3.1 billion Israel was to have been allocated this year, under the sequester, the across-the-board cuts mandated by 2011 legislation.

A pro-Israel official confirmed the number as $155 million.

An Israeli official said the country's government expected assistance to be affected by the cuts.

The congressional staffer said that missile defense programs, funded separately from the defense assistance, also likely will be affected. They include the Iron Dome anti-missile system that Israel said deflected more than 80 percent of rockets fired at the country during its operation in the  Gaza Strip last December.

Pro-Israel groups plan to push back against the Israel cuts specifically and foreign assistance funding overall.

Maintaining assistance at current levels has been a centerpiece of lobbying this week by thousands of activists who attended the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.

Among the legislative items on their agenda was a bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate that would designate Israel a "major strategic ally," a one-of-a-kind label, and keep funding at current levels.

Israeli officials have said they are worried about the cuts, but have added that they don't expect to be exempt from them.

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