• Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Anger as US progressives oppose Israeli Iron Dome funding

  • Published at 06:36 am September 22nd, 2021
Israel Rocket Attack in Gaza
This picture shows an explosion following an airstrike by Israel in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 17, 2021 AFP

The about-face came after a group of leftist representatives objected to the allocation, threatening to tank the bill when it comes up for a vote later Tuesday

A group of leftist US Democrats came under heavy fire Tuesday after reportedly vowing to nix a short-term spending bill over a $1 billion allocation for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

The party leadership vowed there would be no interruption in funding, with the cash being sourced elsewhere -- but not before being berated by Republicans for capitulating to "anti-Semites" on their left flank.  

Steny Hoyer, the Democratic House of Representatives majority leader, said there would be a vote "before the end of this week that will fund fully Iron Dome."

He added he had talked to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid "and assured him that that bill was going to pass this house."

He said the House would use an accelerated procedure known as a suspension bill that requires a bill be approved by two thirds of the members present, or a unanimous oral vote. The Senate will then have to adopt it.

Tuesday's drama was sparked by House Democrats removing a provision originally included in a bill to keep the federal government funded that would have helped boost the Israeli air defense system.

The about-face came after a group of leftist representatives objected to the allocation, US media reported, threatening to tank the bill when it comes up for a vote later Tuesday. 

While the row looked ultimately like a storm in a tea cup, it underlined that progressives are becoming increasingly skeptical of no-strings-attached aid to America's key ally in the Middle East, just months after the end of hardline right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu's 11-year premiership.

Operational for a decade, Iron Dome has intercepted and destroyed thousands of short-range rockets and artillery shells launched by Hamas militants from Gaza before they were able to hit populated areas, Israeli officials say.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Democrats for capitulating to "the anti-Semitic influence of their radical members," an accusation echoed by conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who urged the Democratic rank-and-file to denounce the party's leadership.

Dean Phillips, a Democratic congressman from Minnesota, tweeted he was "incredulous" that colleagues would risk shutting down the government rather than defend "one of our most important allies and only Jewish nation in the world" from Hamas rockets.    

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