United State-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Date: July 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012.

I would like to thank the distinguished majority leader and the minority whip, Mr. Cantor and Mr. Hoyer, for sponsoring the House version of this legislation, as well as Senators BOXER and ISAKSON, who sponsored the Senate version that this House is considering today.

For over 64 years, since the United States recognized Israel just 11 minutes after its creation, the democratic, Jewish State of Israel has been one of our closest allies.

Our shared commitment to peace and to freedom have been the foundation of a special bond that has reinforced the safety and the security of both of our countries. We have forged a defense partnership that has yielded advanced technologies and policies that have benefited both of our nations and helped to keep our citizens secure. Our fates are tied together. A threat to one of our countries is a threat to both.

And so, as the Iranian regime continues to race toward nuclear weapons and sponsor violent extremists like Hamas and Hezbollah, we must work together to counter this growing threat, Mr. Speaker.

And while the United States and Israel are targeted by many of the same threats, Israel's proximity to the Iran-Syria-Hamas-Hezbollah nexus leaves us no room for error. Our goal, with this legislation, is to ensure that Israel has the ability to protect its citizens against the dangers that touch their lives every day, against the rockets, against the bombs, against the missiles that their enemies stockpile while making well-publicized threats every day against the Jewish state.

How do we achieve this goal, Mr. Speaker? By increasing the totality of our bilateral security relations. That means increasing joint missile defense systems, joint military exercises, and intelligence cooperation. We get to learn from them, and they get to learn from us, and we all sleep a little more soundly knowing that we have done all we can to help our citizens.

It also means providing increased excess defense articles and munitions to Israel. With a host of entities stirring the pot of hostility against the Jewish state, it is critical that the United States stand foursquare with Israel.

This legislation also extends authority to provide loan guarantees to the Israeli government that provide the Jewish state with a cushion of support in times of need, and at no cost to the American taxpayer.

Mr. Speaker, our ally, Israel, needs our help, and we are situated to lend a friend this hand while strengthening our own security in the process. Let us stand together today and say that we support a strong and secure Israel, not only because Israel is our friend and ally, but also because a strong and secure Israel means a strong and secure America.

Now is a particularly important time to send that message, as we face the looming specter of this sequester that we're all talking about and working hard to prevent.

Mr. Speaker, if nothing is done to avert this crisis, we will face an almost $450 million cut to security assistance to Israel. This would include over $100 million in cuts to cooperative missile defense programs. These cuts would damage the security of our Nation and our ally, Israel, and they must be averted.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to yield such time as he may consume to the coauthor of this legislation, our leader, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Cantor).

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 states, and it makes it very clear, that U.S. policy is to: reaffirm the commitment to Israel's security as a Jewish state; also to provide Israel with the military capabilities to defend herself and help preserve its qualitative military edge; also to expand military and civilian cooperation; to assist in a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side by side in peace and security, which is all of our goals; and also encourage Israel's neighbors to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

This bill expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should take specified actions to assist in the defense of Israel; it amends the 2005 Department of Defense Appropriations Act to extend authority to transfer certain Department of Defense items to Israel; it amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to extend authority to make additions to foreign-based defense stockpiles; and, lastly, it amends the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2003 to extend specified loan guarantee authority to Israel.

This is in the U.S. national security interest, and I hope that the House overwhelmingly passes this important bill.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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