By Congressmen Brad Schneider and Doug Collins
The State of Israel recently celebrated the 65th anniversary of its independence. This was a time for celebration as well as reflection.
Israel has managed to prosper against the odds, developing both economic and military strength that have allowed the people and state of Israel to flourish.
But this success has come at great cost. Too many Israelis, civilians as well as soldiers, have lost their lives in violence perpetrated by those who deny Israel's right to exist. Israel is constantly threatened by neighboring nations, including Iran, which continues pursuing a nuclear weapons program for the express purpose of eliminating Israel altogether.
In addition to the nuclear threat, Israel's enemies continue using unconventional tactics such as militia-style assaults and cyber attacks to undermine Israel's security.
The US has stood with Israel from its inception, and our nations remain close allies for good reason. As the only democracy in the region, Israel stands as a beacon of hope and freedom.
Israel has also provided invaluable intelligence that has saved the lives of civilians as well as US military personnel in the Middle East.
Our commitment to Israel has long included supporting Israel's qualitative military edge over those who would do her harm. Simply put, QME ensures that Israel is equipped to counter and defeat the threats facing the nation. The US has helped ensure Israel's QME by providing military aid ranging from equipment and weapons to technology.
Under current law, the president also submits a report to Congress every four years concerning the status of weapons systems being sold to Middle Eastern countries.
A few sensible improvements to the QME determination process would go far in ensuring Israel's security as well as US interests in the region. The current statutory definition of QME only mentions conventional military threats, which ignores the nuclear, terrorist and cyber threats against Israel. We are also concerned that the substantial amount of time between QME reports may prevent Congress from having the information it needs to assess the ever-changing situation in the Middle East.
Together in a bipartisan effort, we have introduced legislation that would update the definition of QME and help ensure that timely information is provided to Congress as we work to ensure Israel's continued military advantage. Our legislation would require the president to consider asymmetric and cyber warfare when making its QME determination.
This bill would also require the executive branch to submit a biennial report concerning the status of Israel's QME.
Israel's military strength is a vital component to promoting stability and peace in the Middle East. Our legislation provides an opportunity for the US to show Israel that we understand the various threats they face and stand ready and willing to assist them. As members of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, we are committed to promoting our QME legislation and other measures to ensure Israel is equipped to protect its citizens.