United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Howard Berman
Date: May 9, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, and I yield myself 3 minutes.

I would like to thank my friends, the majority leader, Mr. Cantor, and minority whip, Mr. Hoyer, for bringing this important bill to the floor. Their cooperation on this legislation is an outstanding example of Congress' bipartisan support for the United States-Israel relationship.

Mr. Speaker, since its founding, Israel has faced innumerable challenges to its survival, but the serious threats it faces today are unprecedented. Only weeks ago, a massive barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza at Israeli population centers by Islamic jihad and other terrorists. But unlike previous incidents where terrorists targeted Israel, the Iron Dome anti-missile system--funded in part by the United States--changed the rules of the game. In fact, Iron Dome intercepted a remarkable 90 percent of the incoming rockets aimed at once-defenseless population centers.

Currently, there are only three Iron Dome batteries operational in Israel, with two more on the way, but more are needed in order to protect all of Israel's 8 million citizens.

I'm pleased to say that H.R. 4133 incorporates language from the Iron Dome Support Act, bipartisan legislation that the chair and I recently introduced and which now has nearly 90 cosponsors, expressing support for providing Israel assistance to produce additional Iron Dome batteries.

The bill also pledges to assist Israel with its ongoing efforts to forge a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side by side in peace and security. Despite all of the obstacles to achieving this goal, we can't give up trying, as peace is profoundly in Israel's strategic interest. I applaud Prime Minister Netanyahu's willingness to negotiate anywhere, anytime. The Palestinians should take him up on that offer instead of pursuing a campaign to delegitimize Israel at the U.N. and elsewhere.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the greatest threat to both American and Israeli security today is that posed by Iran's nuclear weapons program. I hope fervently that this can be solved diplomatically. But as we all know, only massive pressure from the United States and our allies has any chance of persuading Iran to give up its quest for nuclear arms. This bill makes clear that the U.S. Congress will continue to help Israel meet the Iranian threat.

Gaza-based terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Iranian nuclear problem are not the only threats faced by Israel. Recent events in Egypt and Syria, along with the presence of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, require Israeli vigilance against danger from all directions. To that end, this bill reaffirms our determination to support Israel's qualitative military edge against any possible combination of regional threats.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. BERMAN. I yield myself 30 additional seconds.

And reinforcing that commitment to Israel's security, this bill extends for 4 years a loan guarantee program for Israel that was initiated in 2003, an extension based on legislation that Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and I introduced in March.

Our relationship with our ally Israel is one of the most important, and closest, that we have with any nation in the world. We face many of the same threats, and we share the same values.

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently said that he can hardly remember a better period of U.S. support and cooperation and common U.S.-Israel strategic understanding than the current one. Passage of this bill will help ensure that this cooperation continues into the future. I encourage all of my colleagues to support the legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

We've had a group of speakers come down to the floor, including the majority leader, the Democratic whip, the chair of the committee, and a number of other Members to talk about our solidarity with Israel, the U.S.-Israel relationship, the bipartisan nature of it.

To the extent there was an implication--which I heard--from the last speaker that this is not a view shared by this administration, I just want to rise and indicate how wrong such an implication is. The President of the United States has indicated that these bonds are unbreakable. He has raised the level of security cooperation and intelligence sharing to unprecedentedly high levels between the United States and Israel. He is leading the international effort to get Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. He has stood with Israel in the wake of the Goldstone Report, in the wake of the efforts of the Human Rights Commission to demonize and delegitimize Israel, and in the context of vetoing resolutions which unfairly single out Israel on a number of issues. Any implication to the contrary is unfounded and seeks to undercut the very bipartisan nature of the support that is so essential to this relationship.

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


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