WASHINGTON : The US Senate unanimously passed legislation on Friday to provide $225 million in emergency funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system.
An earlier version of the funding plan had failed on Thursday when Senate Republicans blocked a broader spending bill that was largely intended to provide money to handle the current immigration crisis at the US-Mexico border.
But lawmakers reached an agreement overnight to pass the missile funding measure.
To become law, the funding plan must still pass the House of Representatives and be signed by President Barack Obama. Given US lawmakers traditionally strong support for Israel, it is not expected to encounter significant resistance in the House.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile interceptor system, which was partly funded by the United States, has shot down most of the rockets fired at its cities by militants in Gaza during the current three-week conflict.
Moreover, Turkey will do what it can to help free an Israeli soldier whose capture led to the breakdown of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but the priority should be the reinstatement of a truce, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday.
“What is important is that the ceasefire is reinstated. To ensure this, together with others, we can take any step that could resolve this Israeli soldier issue. If Turkey can do anything, we will do our best,” Davutoglu told reporters. “But if the ceasefire is stopped because an Israeli soldier is kidnapped, somebody should account for the 70 Palestinians killed (today). In our eyes, all people are equal,” he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, fearing an escalation of violence in Gaza, earlier called on Turkey and Qatar to use their influence to secure the release of the Israeli soldier. “This ceasefire was something that we built together and we agreed as a matter of principle that we will not let it crumble,” Davutoglu said of his discussion with Kerry, adding that renewed talks would now be held involving Turkey, the United States and Qatar. “We’ll do what is necessary to get the ceasefire we worked so hard for back on track. We’ll put together a framework that is based not on allegations from one side but one that is satisfactory for both sides,” he said.