The $717 billion National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 passed through the House of Representatives on Aug. 1, including a bipartisan measure to give $3.8 billion annually to Israel.
Signed by President Donald Trump on Aug. 13, NDAA is a federal law that details the budget, expenditures and policies of the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to the NDAA website, President Trump was granted $500 million for co-development of missile defense systems with Israel and co-production of: Iron Dome, an Israeli all-weather air defense system to intercept and destroy short range rockets; David’s Sling, designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, missiles and rockets; and Arrow weapons systems, a group of anti-ballistic missiles.
The Associated Press reported the law provides $50 million for joint U.S.-Israeli work on counter-tunnel technology, which has emerged as a major security threat to Israel in recent years. Facing constant threats on its borders, Israel is forced to spend more on defense as a percentage of GDP than any other nation in the industrialized world.
In prior years, Israel received $3.8 billion from the U.S. to finance and defend against rockets fired by terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas. President Barack Obama’s 10-year agreement, $3.8 billion per year plus $500 million for missile defense, expired this year.
NDAA also temporarily halts the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. This strategic move relates to tensions between the U.S. and Ankara, which is currently holding hostage Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who has lived in Turkey since the 1990s. Brunson, entering his second year as a hostage on espionage and terrorism charges, captured Trump’s attention. NASA scientist Serkan Golge and State Department workers Metin Topuz, Nazmi Mete Cantürk, Hamza Uluçay are also being held by Turkey.