H. Res. 729, Expressing support for the expeditious consideration and finalization of a new, robust, and long-term Memorandum of Understanding on military assistance to Israel between the United States Government and the Government of Israel

H.Res. 729

Expressing support for the expeditious consideration and finalization of a new, robust, and long-term Memorandum of Understanding on military assistance to Israel between the United States Government and the Government of Israel

Date
September 13, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, September 13, 2016, the House will continue consideration of H. Res. 729, Expressing support for the expeditious consideration and finalization of a new, robust, and long-term Memorandum of Understanding on military assistance to Israel between the United States Government and the Government of Israel, under suspension of the rules. The resolution was introduced on May 13, 2016 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which ordered the resolution reported on July 14, 2016, by voice vote.

 

Bill Summary

H. Res. 729 is resolved that the House of Representatives:

  • reaffirms that Israel is a major strategic partner of the United States;
  • reaffirms that it is the policy and law of the United States to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military advantage and possesses the capacity and capability to defend itself from all threats;
  • reaffirms the United States’ support of a robust Israeli tiered missile defense program;
  • supports continued conversations between the United States and Israel for a robust and long-term Memorandum of Understanding on United States military assistance to Israel;
  • urges the prompt and expeditious completion of a new Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel; and
  • supports a robust and long-term Memorandum of Understanding negotiated between the United States and Israel regarding military support that increases the amount of aid established in previous agreements and significantly enhances Israel’s defense and military capabilities.

Background

The United States Government has created, cultivated, and maintained strong bilateral ties with the Government of Israel for decades, specifically reinforcing significant levels of U.S.-Israel security cooperation in regard to national defense and regional stability. The longtime U.S. commitment to Israel’s security and qualitative military edge (QME) is intended to allow Israel to defend itself against outside threats, which in recent years have mainly originated from Iran and groups that Iran supports in the region.[1] Most notably, the Government of Israel faces urgent security threats from two United States designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, Hezbollah and Hamas. The former possesses an estimated supply of 150,000 missiles and rockets, while the latter continues to try and rebuild its tunnel system as a method to infiltrate Israel and restock its respective missile supply. Additionally, the ongoing conflicts caused by militants groups in both Syria and the Sinai Peninsula have also provoked significant instances of instability for Israel and the region.[2]

In April 2008, The United States initially designated Israel as a “major non-NATO ally.” Later, on August 16, 2007, the two countries signed a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on U.S. military assistance to Israel, allowing for a total of $30,000,000,000 in support over the course of this understanding. Since the MOU was signed into agreement, intelligence and defense cooperation have continued to develop between the U.S. and Israel.[3]

On October 15, 2008, the United States passed the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-429), defining Israel’s QME as, “the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from and individual states or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damage and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.” Further, on July 27, 2012, the United States passed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-150), declaring its policy as a means to “help the Government of Israel preserve its qualitative military edge amid rapid and uncertain regional political transformation.”[4]

Israel continues to be a major strategic ally for the United States, and the President reinforced this security alliance when he signed The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 into law on December 19, 2014, declaring that it is U.S. policy “to continue to provide Israel with robust military assistance, including for the procurement of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System.” Most recently, Congress appropriated funds to help strengthen the codevelopment and coproduction of Israel’s cooperative missile defense program when it passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. Specifically, this authorization includes appropriations to help Israel procure the David’s Sling weapon system as well as the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program.[5]

According to the bill’s sponsor, “The United States has no greater friend and ally than the democratic Jewish State of Israel…Ensuring Israel maintains its QME is not only U.S. policy, but it is our law.”[6]

———————
[1] See CRS Report – Israel: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief.
[2] See H. Res. 729, at 2-3.
[3] Id. at 1-2.
[4] Id, at 2.
[5] Id, at 3.
[6] See Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s Press Release, May 13, 2016.

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office cost estimate is not available at this time.

Additional Information

For questions or further information on the bill, contact John Wilson with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1811.