Pinellas County Republican Representative David Jolly met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday in Jerusalem. According to the congressman’s office, the two discussed national security issues in the Middle East, the continuing role of Iran in backing acts of terror against Israel, Iran as a potential security threat, and the need for a continued security partnership with the United States.
Following the meeting, Jolly called for raising U.S. foreign military assistance from $3.1 bill annually to $5 billion.
“Let’s be clear – if Israel’s security is breached, our own U.S. national security is immediately compromised, our U.S. interests around the globe are at risk, and our very homeland, the continental United States, is immediately threatened by a new state-funded international terror coalition like we have never before seen. This is a matter of direct U.S. national security as well as the security of Israel,” Jolly said. “Some reports suggest Israel is in need of up to $5 billion annually in military assistance, up from the current U.S. commitment of $3.1 billion. I fully agree, and today I call on the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to meet that new funding level.”
Jolly is running in a competitive primary for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate – and undoubtedly his announcement will please the hearts of most Florida conservatives. Although derided as an insider by some of his opponents in the race, as a sitting congressman, Jolly can make such a declaration, and perhaps gain traction with the GOP Congress.
It’s uncertain what the White House might think about the Jolly proposal. Reuters reported last fall that the Obama administration was unlikely to fully meet the Israeli request, and predicted the sides would settle for an annual sum of between $4 billion and $5 billion.
“Consider what our strongest security partner in the Middle East is now enduring – a U.S. President who provided a nuclear weapon pathway and $150 billion in economic enrichment to Israel’s greatest adversary Iran so that Iran can be strengthened in its quest to destroy Israel, a U.S. President doing the tango as ISIS grows unchecked just across Israel’s border with Syria, and growing threats from Hezbollah and Hamas committed to jihad and the destruction of Israel,” Jolly said. “How about this for a change? How about the U.S. actually do something real to respond to these threats, to protect Israel, and to protect our own national security. We either stand with Israel or we don’t. Because while we hope for peace, the truth is we only defeat terrorists with renewed strength – and weapons, lots of weapons.”
Critics often say that Washington gives out to much foreign aid. In their news release, the Jolly staff notes that total foreign military assistance of $5 billion to Israel would represent 0.1% of the entire annual federal budget in the last fiscal year.