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entries tagged with: Iron Dome

 

Rothman meeting examines U.S.-Israeli missile defense

When Rep. Steve Rothman met late last month with the head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, the two discussed state-of-the-art defense programs that will protect the Jewish state from regional threats while providing the United States with access to superior technology.

Rothman (D-9) sits on the powerful House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, which allocates all funding for U.S. military and joint U.S.-Israel defense projects. The Feb. 23 meeting with Arieh Herzog focused specifically on three missile defense programs: David’s Sling, a short-range ballistic missile defense system; the Aarow 2, an anti-tactical ballistic missile system; and the Arrow 3, an upper-tier system capable of stopping longer range missiles. (See With Murtha gone, what are ramifications for Israel?)

“The joint projects I discussed with director Herzog — and have discussed with the highest level of military and intelligence personnel at the highest level of the U.S. government — will not only provide Israel with superior missile defense systems but will also provide the United States with access to that technology at every stage of development for use by American forces and other American allies,” Rothman told The Jewish Standard earlier this week.

David’s Sling, which Rothman said has almost completed full testing, is designed to protect against Kassam rockets from Gaza and Katyushas from Lebanon. Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and the American defense contractor Raytheon are jointly developing the system. The first live-fire test of the system is expected sometime this year.

Asked about Israel’s Iron Dome system, which the Jewish state developed on its own to protect against Kassam rockets, Rothman said it provides a larger defense radius than David’s Sling, but both would contribute to “Israel’s defensive umbrella.”

The Arrow 2 system is already operational. It is designed to protect against lethal short- to medium-range ballistic missiles, such as those currently located in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.

The Arrow 3 system is designed to intercept a future Iranian or other long-range missile that achieves its range by leaving Earth’s atmosphere. Unlike the Arrow 2 warhead, which can explode without directly hitting its target, the Arrow 3 needs to directly strike the offensive missile. This, Rothman said, makes the Arrow 3 a less expensive system than its predecessor since it requires fewer explosives and thus has a smaller payload to carry.

“One of the benefits of the Arrow 3 is it will be cheaper to make and more can be acquired in Israel’s and America’s defensive arsenal for less money, yet [they will] get the job done,” Rothman said.

Israel and the United States have worked on the Arrow project since the late 1980s, and Israel deployed the first Arrow battery in October 2000. The system is a project of Israel Aerospace Industries and Boeing. Developers hope the Arrow 3 will be operational sometime between 2012 and 2014, Rothman said.

Rothman and Herzog discussed “every potential threat to Israel’s security, including the Iranian threat,” Rothman said, without going into further detail. The meeting was not a response to any specific threat, Rothman noted, but rather was part of a regular series of meetings he holds with the IMDO.

Israel advocates have criticized President Obama’s policies toward Israel, specifically regarding pressure on the Jewish state to make concessions in the Palestinian peace process. Rothman, however, said that military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries has never been higher than under Obama.

 
 

The U.S. is committed to Israel’s security, preventing Iranian nukes

 

Fixing leaks and the Middle East

The United States continues to deal with repercussions of the WikiLeaks revelations, while the Israel-Palestinian conflict has taken a new turn.

WikiLeaks and Lockerbie

WikiLeaks revealed last week that Libya threatened Great Britain with “harsh, immediate” consequences if Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the sole person convicted in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, died in prison. Megrahi, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer while serving his life sentence, was released from Scottish prison in August 2009 after doctors said he had only months to live.

Inside the Beltway

Megrahi’s release sparked protests in the United States, especially from New Jersey’s representatives in Washington. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has repeatedly called for a Senate investigation into Megrahi’s release. Calls to Lautenberg’s office were not returned.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9), told The Jewish Standard earlier this week that the latest batch of WikiLeaks documents contained “virtually no surprises” but the revelations have damaged the diplomatic flexibility of the United States and other nations.

“I find it ironic that a group that claims to be for peace would place a chilling effect on international diplomacy for the foreseeable future,” he said. “The United States government has taken immediate steps and begun long-range efforts to minimize the chances of such a massive leak of classified documents. There will never be any leak-proof system, but this latest round of WikiLeak releases has engendered the appropriate level of serious attention to these matters.”

Money for Iron Dome

The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution last week to fund the rest of fiscal year 2011 by a vote of 212 to 206. Included in the spending bill, which divided Democrats and Republicans, was $205 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which the Jewish state is developing to defend against kassam rockets.

In a statement to the Standard, Rothman said he was “extremely pleased and proud that President Obama’s allocation for Israel’s Iron Dome program was included in the House’s funding bill for the upcoming year.

“This was a priority of Congress and President Obama, and it is the first funding of its kind for this important short-range rocket and artillery shell defense system.”

The allocation is in addition to the more-than-$200 million already allocated for the Arrow and David’s Sling missile defense systems, jointly developed by Israel and the United States.

“This funding sends a strong message, to both our enemies and allies, by providing more total dollars than ever before toward these rocket and missile defense programs,” Rothman said.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-8) voted for the bill, but Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) joined with other House Republicans in opposing the bill because of other spending attached to it.

“At a time when American families are making personal sacrifices to reduce their family budgets and cut back expenses, I could not in good conscience vote for a federal spending bill that fails to do the same,” Garrett said in a statement to the Standard. “It’s unfortunate that the Iron Dome defense system had to be attached to such a controversial spending bill. I have long advocated separating U.S. funding assistance for Israel’s defense from contentious measures like the bill voted on last week.”

Palestine: To be or not to be

Two South American countries last month recognized the state of Palestine on the 1967 armistice lines. Increasingly, voices within the Palestinian Authority are calling for unilateral recognition by the United Nations of a Palestinian state, bypassing negotiations with Israel. The unilateral threats have been condemned in Washington, where members of Congress have begun to reconsider Palestinian financial aid.

Palestinian aid is important to U.S. and Israeli interests, as well as the Palestinians and peace process, Rothman said. “However, should the Palestinian Authority take unilateral actions, such as declaring itself a state without a prior agreement with the Jewish State of Israel, then the United States must seriously re-examine whether the Palestinian Authority is an appropriate recipient of U.S. foreign aid.”

Rothman called the South American recognition of Palestine “misguided and unhelpful” and said it would have “no practical effect” other than to draw negative attention from the United States.

“Instead of making pointless threats to unilaterally declare statehood, the Palestinian Authority must demonstrate its seriousness as a partner for peace with Israel and return to direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions and to resolve these matters in the interest of both parties,” he said.

Garrett also lashed out against Palestinian unilateral moves in a statement to the Standard, saying that such moves undermine the peace process and cause instability.

“This year, terrorists based in Gaza have fired hundreds of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli communities,” he said. “These human rights violations cannot be overlooked and I believe the P.A. has an obligation to discontinue attacks on Israel and affirm Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state.”

Garrett and Rothman joined 50 other House members in co-sponsoring a resolution, which passed a vote on Wednesday, in support of “a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, and for other purposes.” The resolution also calls on President Obama to deny recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestine and oppose global recognition.

 
 

Rothman questions French decision to arm Lebanon

_JStandardLocal | World
Published: 31 December 2010

Rep. Steve Rothman wrote to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France last week, urging him to reconsider his country’s reported plans to sell anti-tank missiles to the Lebanese Armed Forces.

The letter cited reports that France intends to sell 100 Haut subsonique Optiquement Téléguidé Tiré d’un Tube anti-tank missile systems to the LAF by the end of February. Hezbollah, Rothman (D-9) warned, is in a position to take over the LAF, and if that were to occur, Israel could be in danger from France’s anti-tank missiles.

The French government has yet to respond.

In a phone call to The Jewish Standard earlier this week, Rothman elaborated on the need to support the Lebanese government and the LAF, while guaranteeing that weaponry does not fall into Hezbollah hands.

“Israel and the United States and many other pro-Israel nations believe that the Lebanese Armed Forces are an important last wall of defense against a Hezbollah takeover of Lebanon,” Rothman said.

The French proposal to sell sophisticated anti-tank weapons to the LAF raises concerns about how and on whom these weapons would be used, according to Rothman. Hezbollah, he said, has very few tanks, if any, so it is unlikely the terror group would be the target.

“The concern is that the LAF might one day be overridden by Hezbollah and thus place these anti-tank weapons in the hands of Hezbollah armed forces, who pose a serious national security threat to Israel,” he said.

While Israel remains in an official state of war with Lebanon and the U.S. State Department lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, both countries want to see the Lebanese government grow stronger to offset Hezbollah, Rothman said.

“The United States believes it is in its national security interests, as does Israel believe it’s in its national security interests, that Lebanon not be abandoned by friends and supporters so as to make it easier for Hezbollah to overwhelm that nation, whose people do not wish to be run by Hezbollah,” he said. “The United States and Israel support the people of Lebanon and the Lebanese government as long as they do not seek Israel’s harm or assist directly or indirectly on attacks on Israel or her citizens.”

While questioning France’s decision to arm Lebanon, Rothman, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, lamented the $205 million in aid for Israel’s Iron Dome short-range missile defense system that was left out of a recent continuing resolution President Obama signed last week.

The “continuing resolution” passed Dec. 21 includes $2.75 billion in annual defense assistance for Israel and maintains government funding at 2010 levels. The stop-gap emergency omnibus bill had initially included the Iron Dome funding when it passed out of the House, but Senate Republicans threatened a government shut-down if new earmarks were added.

When this temporary measure expires in March, Congress will have an opportunity to re-examine the funding and place it in a future bill.

While the United States has jointly developed the David’s Sling and Arrow anti-missile systems with Israel, the Iron Dome system was developed solely in Israel and this would have marked the first U.S. funding for the project.

“I am hopeful that with the help of my Democrat and Republican colleagues, who on a bipartisan basis have always supported President Obama’s request for that first-ever Iron Dome funding from the U.S., we’ll find a way, notwithstanding the challenging spending issues facing our nation, to include those critical Iron Dome monies for Israel,” Rothman said.

Josh Lipowsky can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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