Senators say Israel blocks transfer of Iron Dome batteries from US to Ukraine – The Times of Israel

A pair of US senators said on Friday that Israel prevented Washington from transferring two Iron Dome batteries from the US to Ukraine to bolster Kiev’s air defenses against Russia.

“We can save more Ukrainian lives today if we transfer those batteries. However, due to serious concerns, the government of Israel has blocked the United States from transferring these batteries,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen wrote in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

While funded by the US, the Iron Dome was developed by Israel, and Jerusalem has a veto over whether the US can sell the missile defense system to other countries.

Israel has blocked transfers to other countries for fear that the sensitive technology could fall into enemy hands.

While other air defense platforms, such as Israel’s Spyder system, are capable of countering the Russian missile threat, Ukraine has repeatedly requested to buy Iron Dome and the Biden administration has lobbied Israel to heed the call, a senior US official said. officer.

In their letter Friday, Graham and Van Hollen pointed to testimony a senior US military official gave to the Armed Services Committee in May, saying the US currently has two Iron Dome batteries they could deploy in Ukraine.

“To be clear, we are not asking Israel to hand over its own Iron Dome systems, which are critical to their own security, but to allow the United States to hand over our own batteries to protect the people of Ukraine. help,” they wrote.

“If it is not feasible to transfer these assets to Ukraine, we ask that you look at other ways to help, including moving them to another United States ally under the control and supervision of our own armed forces. , freeing up other U.S. air defense assets for transfer to bolster Ukraine’s air defense needs and save more Ukrainian lives,” the letter said.

Emergency workers extinguish a fire after a Russian missile strike at a warehouse in Odessa, Ukraine, June 14, 2023. (Ukrainian Emergency Situation Press Office via AP)

A senior Israeli official told Haaretz daily that Israel was unaware of the senators’ proposal.

After an apparent warming of ties under the Netanyahu government, Kiev on Sunday enraged Israel by blasting Jerusalem’s recent policy towards Moscow, saying it has chosen the “path of close cooperation” with Russia.

In a post on its Facebook page, the Ukrainian embassy in Israel wrote that “Israel’s so-called ‘neutrality.'[‘s] government is considered to be clearly pro-Russian.”

The embassy pointed to “a series of rather controversial events that took place in the first half of 2023”, which it assessed negatively.

The embassy called Foreign Secretary Eli Cohen’s trip to Kyiv in February “fruitless” and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of making “entirely fictitious and speculative assumptions” in a recent interview.

In an interview last week with The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu said: “We also worry that any systems we give to Ukraine could be used against us because they could fall into Iranian hands… and by the way, that is not a theoretical possibility. It actually happened with the Western anti-tank weapons that we now find on our borders. So we have to be very careful here.”

Ukrainian ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk told The Times of Israel that Netanyahu’s claims were baseless.

Following the embassy post, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to summon Korniychuk for a reprimand in the coming days.

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