Despite Diplomatic Tensions, U.S.-Israeli Security Ties Strengthen

(Washington Post) Glenn Kessler - While public attention has focused on diplomatic disputes between Israel and the U.S. over settlement expansion, security and military ties between the two nations have grown ever closer during the Obama administration. This week, Israel successfully conducted a test of the new "Iron Dome" mobile missile-defense system designed to shield Israeli towns from small rockets launched from Gaza. When the system is fully deployed in the next year, about half the cost - $205 million - will be borne by U.S. taxpayers under a plan advanced by the Obama administration and broadly supported in Congress. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates "believes we are cooperating on military-to-military relations in an unprecedented manner," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. Military relations were very close during the Bush administration, but "in many ways the cooperation has been extended and perhaps enhanced in different areas" during the Obama administration, a senior Israeli official acknowledged. The U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan draw on lessons learned and equipment developed by the Israelis in their conflicts - and vice versa. Unmanned drones and the armoring of vehicles to protect against roadside bombs derive from Israeli technology, Israeli officials say. The U.S. provides about $200 million a year to two other Israeli missile-defense systems, known as Arrow and David's Sling. The costs are shared 50-50, with the understanding that the U.S. will benefit from the Israeli experience.

2010-07-16 10:16:43

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