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US shutdown may affect military aid to Israel

February 3, 2014 at 11:09 am

Deputy spokesperson of the US Department of State Marie Harf said on Wednesday that US military aid to Israel might be affected if closures of federal institutions continue.

“The State Department’s ability to provide military assistance to Israel and other allies in the time frame that is expected and customary could be hindered, depending on the length of the shutdown,” Harf said.

The only example the spokeswoman mentioned by name was Israel, which enjoys strong support from both American republicans and democrats. Israel receives more US aid than any other ally.

The Obama administration had previously demanded aid totalling around $3.1 billion for Israel in 2014. However Harf explained that fiscal year 2014 funding for Israel, which began 1 October, would be unavailable until a new budget was passed.

The two countries agreed back in 2007 on a $30 billion aid package to be dispersed between 2009 and 2018.

Data published by the US Department of State shows that the US distributed around $5.5 billion in aid to its allies around the world in 2011 – more than 80 countries.

Harf said that the Department of State has not laid any employees off as a result of the government shutdown. She explained that the visa and passport offices, which both depend on fees for revenues, remain open.

“While there are no furloughs, it is not just business as usual,” she remarked. “And there are programmes certainly that are affected, and which all could be up and running again if Congress could get some business done.”

The offices that have been shutdown, Harf said, include the Office of the Inspector General and the International Boundary and Water Commission.