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US House approves $1 billion for Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ missile-defense system

A handful of progressive House Democrats, who have accused Israel of human rights abuses against Palestinians, had objected to the provision's inclusion in the broad spending bill.

By: Reuters | Washington |
September 24, 2021 8:23:50 am
Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system lights up the sky over Tel Aviv as it tries to intercept rockets fired from Gaza on May 16, 2021. (Corinna Kern/The New York Times)

The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to give $1 billion to Israel for its Iron Dome missile-defense system, two days after objections from the most liberal Democrats forced leaders to remove it from a broader spending bill.

Explained | How Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system intercepts rockets

The measure passed by 420 to 9 — eight no’s from Democrats and one from a Republican — with two members voting present. That sent the measure to the Senate, where leaders have not yet scheduled a vote.

A handful of progressive House Democrats, who have accused Israel of human rights abuses against Palestinians, had objected to the provision’s inclusion in the broad spending bill.

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That threatened the bill’s passage, with Democrats only narrowly controlling the House, because Republicans opposed the plan to fund the federal government through Dec. 3 and raise the nation’s borrowing limit. The House passed the broader bill on Tuesday.

But the removal of the Iron Dome funding angered centrist Democrats and led Republicans to label the party as anti-Israel, despite a long tradition in the US Congress of strong support from both parties for the Jewish state.

The House’s Democratic leaders immediately said they would introduce a standalone bill to provide the Iron Dome funding.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked both parties in the House for their support. “Those who try to challenge this support got a resounding response today,” he said in a statement.

The liberal Democrats have criticised US-Israel policy, saying there should be more concern for human rights issues like Palestinian civilian casualties as Israel struck back after Hamas rocket attacks in May.

“We should also be talking about the Palestinian need for protection against Israeli attack,” Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib, an opponent of the funding, said during debate.

The $1 billion in the Iron Dome funding bill is intended to replace missile interceptors Israel used to ward off rockets fired from Gaza during the May conflict.

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