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House passes bill boosting U.S.-Israel security ties in unanimous vote

The House late Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would require the U.S. to increase the sharing of intelligence, military assets and other aid to Israel, a response to the increasing attacks against Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Republicans called up the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, and easily approved it in a voice vote — a sign of the strong support for the bill among members of both parties.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 8.58.15 PM Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City in July. Israel escalated its military campaign against Hamas striking symbols of the group's control in Gaza.
Image: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa

The Senate has already passed the legislation, so House passage sends it to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature into law.

Among other things, the bill extends authority to transfer surplus Defense Department items to Israel, directs the president to exempt Israel from certain controls on the export of sensitive goods, and lets the president extend cooperation with Israel in areas such as border security, explosives detection, and emergency services.

It authorizes the president to exchange intelligence, technology, equipment and personnel that will advance U.S. national security interests, and requires a study on the possibility of U.S.-Israel cooperation on cyber issues.

It also requires updates on efforts to provide Israel with defense articles, including missile systems. All of these acts are meant to boost Israel's security at a time of heightened tension and violence in the Middle East.

"From Gaza, Hamas continues to deny Israel's right to exist and persists in firing rockets indiscriminately at population centers in Israel," the resolution stated. "Hezbollah — with support from Iran — continues to stockpile rockets and may be seeking to exploit the tragic and volatile security situation within Syria."

"At a time when the Iranian regime continues to advance its nuclear ambitions, Hamas relentlessly terrorizes Israeli citizens and the Palestinian Authority continues to incite violence and undermine the peace process at every turn, it is important for Congress to stand with Israel in a bipartisan effort," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who chairs the Middle East subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

One last thing…
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