The United States ' new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has met with Israeli Minister for Military Affairs Ehud Barak, reassuring that Washington will continue funding the Israeli regime’s costly missile system known as the Iron Dome.
Hagel held a meeting with Barak at the Pentagon on Tuesday, during which the American defense minister voiced his “strong commitment” to back funding for the Israeli regime’s Iron Dome missile system, despite fiscal uncertainty for the US government itself. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement that the two ministers also discussed the need for ‘continued cooperation’ on the ongoing violence in Syria. Little also noted that Hagel and Barak " have had an outstanding working relationship, dating back to Minister Barak’s days as prime minister. "
“Secretary Hagel expressed a desire to visit Israel soon and Minister Barak stated that Israel looks forward to hosting him in the near future, ” Little added.
Barak’s visit to the US came after President Barack Obama last week signed into effect the spending cuts, known as the sequester, which will shave USD 85 billion off the US federal budget in 2013. About half of the cuts will affect the US military sector. Israel receives more than USD 3 billion from the United States in direct foreign assistance every year. It also gets USD 70 million more in military aid for its missile systems. Israeli officials, however, have been trying to keep the US’ aid to the regime, with Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, saying Tel Aviv was working to maintain the annual aid and military funding from the US for the development of missile systems despite America’s spending cuts. Barak also delivered an address at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington last Sunday. Thousands of lobbyists also attended the conference, which wrapped up on Tuesday, in an effort to ensure that the Tel Aviv regime is exempted from the budget cuts. AIPAC is one of the most powerful lobbies in the United States. It works to influence US foreign and domestic policy for the interests of the Israeli regime. The group also acts to secure billions of dollars in military aid for Israel.