Legislation by U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) to reaffirm and strengthen security cooperation between the United States and Israel won unanimous passage today by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Boxer and Isakson introduced the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, S.2165, on March 6, 2012, and it has since garnered the support of 64 cosponsors. Specifically, the bill would reaffirm the United States' "unwavering commitment" to Israel's security and U.S. support for Israel's right to self-defense. The measure would also reiterate the United States' commitment to assisting Israel's efforts to reach a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security," while also encouraging Israel's neighbors to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
Additionally, the bill includes measures to strengthen economic and security cooperation between the two countries -- including extending current loan guarantees to Israel through September 2015 and authorizing an increase in the United States' stockpile of military equipment in Israel.
Senator Boxer said, "This bill will help reaffirm the special bond between the United States and Israel and ensure that Israel has the tools to defend itself at a time of rapid change and volatility in the Middle East."
Senator Isakson said, "I am very pleased that Republicans and Democrats unanimously passed this important legislation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. It is critically important that both parties continue to stand behind Israel, and I am hopeful that this legislation swiftly passes the entire Senate to reaffirm the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel."
The Boxer-Isakson bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
In the House of Representatives, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, (R-VA), have introduced a companion bill, H.R. 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which is cosponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL) and Ranking Member Howard Berman, (D-CA).