The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
The final version of a defense funding act headed for President Obama’s desk includes enhanced Iran sanctions the president opposed as well as additional funding for Israel’s missile defense.
The National Defense Authorization Act, passed in its reconciled version before both houses of Congress broke for Christmas holidays on Dec. 21, includes provisions authored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) that would among other enhancements sanction entities that circumvent existing banking sanctions on Iran by paying for Iranian oil with gold.
Obama administration officials had resisted the enhancements, which also include new restrictions on dealing with Iran’s ports, saying they would inhibit efforts to persuade other nations to adhere to existing sanctions that aim to force Iran to suspend its suspected nuclear weapons program.
Congressional negotiators gave the White House more time to implement the sanctions but would not further water them down. Prior to negotiations, the Obama administration had suggested that the president might veto the legislation because of a range of measures it opposed. It was not clear if the president was satisfied by the compromises.
The National Defense Authorization Act also authorizes $211 million in new funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile system. Israel says that Iron Dome successfully deflected some 80 percent of Hamas rockets aimed for Israel in its recent conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The National Defense Authorization Act also authorizes $267 million in cooperative missile defense programs like Arrow and David’s sling. Obama had requested $99 million.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the measures.
“AIPAC thanks Congress for its actions to thwart Iran’s nuclear quest and help Israel defend against emerging threats,” AIPAC said in a statement. “America must continue to lead these efforts. AIPAC urges immediate implementation of the new sanctions and continued U.S.-Israel cooperation in missile and rocket defense.”
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