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Cotton, Peters Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster U.S. & Israeli Partnership on Developing Defense Technology

May 21, 2020

Washington, D.C. - Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan) today introduced a bipartisan bill that would enhance cooperation between the United States and Israel on developing defense technology. The United States Israel Military Capability Act would require the Department of Defense to establish a working group with their counterparts in the Israeli government to collaborate on the research and development of technology used for national defense.

"For decades, robust defense cooperation has been a cornerstone of the U.S.-Israel relationship," said Cotton. "This legislation will further strengthen our cooperation in military research and development, helping to secure both the United States and Israel from emerging threats and ensuring that our warfighters maintain a decisive technological advantage over our foes."

"As an ally, Israel has both a thriving defense innovation base and extensive real-world experience against modern security threats," said Peters "Improving existing cooperation in a systematic way will not only improve our response to national security threats, but save the lives of both American and Israeli servicemembers and citizens."

The bipartisan legislation requires the Secretary of Defense to establish a working group that includes representatives from the United States Department of Defense, Department of State, intelligence community and their appropriate counterparts as selected by the Israeli government. The working group will evaluate shared security concerns and help forge combined plans to research, develop, procure and field military capabilities to address these threats. The working group may also seek input from American or Israeli defense manufacturers on how to integrate needed technology from the private sector.

The bill builds on a letter the Senators sent to the Department of Defense earlier this year urging the agency to establish partnerships with their Israeli counterparts. During a March 4, 2020, Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Peters asked Secretary of Defense Mark Esper about the concept of creating such a working group. Secretary Esper responded "We have a very good innovative base, [the Israelis] have a very good innovative base. And I think the more we can cooperate together as allies and partners to come up with common solutions, the better, so I think if there are ways to improve that, we should pursue it."