The landmark US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 passed its final legislative hurdle and advanced to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature during a Wednesday evening Congressional session.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously in September.
“I am proud that the House and Senate spoke with one voice to pass this bill that reaffirms and strengthens the relationship between the United States and Israel,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), one of the bill’s two original sponsors in the Senate. “I look forward to the president signing this critical legislation.”
“This bipartisan bill demonstrates Congress’s commitment to supporting our nation’s longstanding ally, Israel,” Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), the bill’s other sponsor added. “I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for their support in passing this important legislation, and I look forward to the president signing it into law.”
The legislation deepens US-Israeli cooperation on defense and energy, and expresses “the sense of Congress that Israel is a major strategic partner of the United States.” In addition, it authorizes an increase of $200 million in the value of US weapons held in forward stockpiles in Israel, to a total of $1.8 billion. In the event of an emergency, Israel can access the stockpiles as long as it reimburses the US for any weapons used.
The bill also expands cooperation on research and development, business, agriculture, water management and academics.
The bill requires the administration to take steps toward allowing Israel to be included in the top-tier category for license-free exports of certain US defense technologies and products as well as to provide more frequent and more detailed assessments on the status of Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors.
Earlier this year, Congress increased US funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, to $351 million for fiscal year 2015 from $235 million the previous year.
Read more: The Times of Israel