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Flow of ammunition, weapons to Israel continuing

IsraelTed DeutchHamasWhite HouseU.S. CongressLois Frankel

A recent Wall Street Journal story that claimed the Obama Administration has "tightened" its control on ammunition that the Pentagon is sending to Israel without its approval alarmed South Florida's Jewish community.

But three members of South Florida's Congressional delegation who serve on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa said there have been no delays in sending ammunition to Israel. Israel is getting the ammunition and weapons from the United States military that it needs in its war with Hamas, the legislators said.

"There have been no delays," U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said in a phone call Friday. "There have been no delays in delivering the Hellfire missiles that Israel needs. Israel is getting everything it needs," Deutch said.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said in an email: "Because Israel is one of America's closest and most important allies, the U.S. should not be holding up military sales to Israel."

Ros-Lehtinen added, "And it is my understanding that Israel is receiving the equipment and ammunition it needs to combat the terrorist threat of Hamas."

She continued, "With Hamas clearly unwilling to disarm or demilitarize, Israel has no other option than to continue to defend itself and its citizens from Hamas' indiscriminate attacks."

The longtime supporter of Israel said: "The U.S. will continue to honor our agreements with Israel so it can continue to protect itself and Congress will continue its bipartisan support for funding to Israel for our joint military cooperation such as Iron Dome."

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, said in an email: "The security of Israel is an imperative." Frankel said her office "confirmed with the Administration that Israel has received all of its supplies."

She and colleagues in the Congress who support Israel will "insist that Israel continues to receive the full aid it needs to defend itself against Hamas terror and the many other threats in the region," Frankel said.

Deutch said he called the White House "to see if there was any truth to the [Wall Street Journal] story." He said he also called the State Department. Deutch said he was told that White House involvement is part of the bureaucratic process. "We need to be especially careful that no bureaucratic snafu holds up delivery of any ammunition they [Israel] need to defend themselves," he said.

There are conflicting reports about whether the holdup in ammunition and weapons was intentional or not, Deutch said.

Officials in the Israeli and U.S. governments told the newspaper that "the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and that both sides know it."

According to the article, relations between the U.S. and Israel are at "the lowest point since President Obama took office." And Israeli officials are "doing as much as they can to bypass the White House in favor of allies in Congress and elsewhere in the administration."

Deutch said, "Support for Israel remains overwhelmingly bipartisan." Congress has given the "strongest support" to Israel in its recent vote for $225 million in supplemental funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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