'Dispute won’t harm $3b. aid to Israel'

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The congresswoman who oversees US aid to Israel told The Jerusalem Post Thursday that the ongoing dispute between the countries would in no way harm assistance to the Jewish state.

“There is no question in my mind that the 10-year memorandum of understanding is solid,” Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the US House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said of the decade-long US aid plan under which $3 billion will be going to Israel this year. “There is strong bipartisan support for Israel in the Congress that will not falter.”

She said that continuing support is also in place when it comes to the US commitment to Israel maintaining a qualitative military edge over its Arab neighbors and other forms of military coordination.

“The military cooperation, the intelligence cooperation, the focus on Iran, is solid and strengthens every year,” said Lowey, who also sits on the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees.

The New York congresswoman referred to the current tensions between the US and Israel as a “hiccup,” noting there have been occasional differences between the two allies over the years, but that “we must move forward. The stakes are too high to dwell on the disagreements.”

The most recent rupture was triggered by an Interior Ministry panel’s approval of 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem during the visit of Vice President Joe Biden two weeks ago, a move condemned by the US. The two administrations were trying to resolve the dispute and lower tensions during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington this week, but struggled to find consensus on the issue, which has complicated planned indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

While the White House might not have accepted Netanyahu’s detailed presentation on the zoning process in the Interior Ministry, whose decision he apologized for even though he said it took him by surprise, Lowey expressed understanding for the prime minister’s position.

“I think there’s a general understanding that Jerusalem is in a different category than the West Bank. And the issues surrounding Jerusalem, most agree, will be in the final stages of negotiations,” she said.

And, using Netanyahu’s nickname, she stressed, “Bibi has the support of Congress. It is solid. It is secure.”

In a sign of additional support for Israel and its government, as of Thursday afternoon well over half of the House of Representatives had lent their names to a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton affirming their support for the US-Israel relationship and urging the two countries to quietly resolve any differences.

'Dispute won?t harm $3b. aid to Israel'
 

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