The sequester could cost Israel $155 million in defense assistance, JTA has
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 and $160 million, out of the $3.1 billion Israel was to have been allocated this year, under the sequester, the across the board cuts mandated by 201 1 legislation.
A pro-Israel official confirmed the number as $155 million.
An Israeli official said that 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. These include the Iron Dome short range antimissile system that deflected over 80 percent of rockets fired at Israel during the last Gaza Strip war in 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 is a bill, sponsored in the House by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and in the Senate by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would designate Israel a "major strategic ally," a one-of-a-kind definition, 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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