The US House of Representatives has adopted a measure aimed at weaving closer US and Israeli defences against ballistic missiles of the type that could be fired by Iran.
The measure, part of a $504 billion defence spending bill passed on Thursday, would redirect $205m in defence department funds toward projects already underway in Israel.
It would provide $25m more for Arrow missile co-production and integration, $45m for a US-Israeli short-range missile defence system dubbed "David's Sling" and $135m to buy a Theater High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, fire unit.
All three projects involve interceptors rockets designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of their flight paths.
The move was spearheaded by Duncan Hunter of California, the senior Republican senator on the House Armed Services Committee and a candidate for his party's 2008 presidential nomination.
It was a last-minute addition to the Democratic-controlled House's version of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill, which still awaits action in the Senate and reconciliation of any differences between the bills
Overall, the House included about $8.2bn for the Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency, a net reduction of $764m from the sum sought by George Bush, the US president.
The Missile Defence Advocacy Alliance, a lobbing group funded partly by companies involved in building missile shields, applauded the initiative to further integrate US and Israeli missile defences.
So , is this about.....
1. Defending Israel against a very real and credible threat from Persia?
2. Enabling Israel to have a "First Strike/Limited Retaliation capability? (scary)
3. Placating Israel so they shut up about Iran for 10 minutes while sensible discussions can take place?
4. Buying the Jewish vote in 2008?
5. Making sure the Chinese have parity of technology in the very near future