BY Jackson Richman, JNS—
U.S. President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Monday, which includes $550 million in assistance to Israel and temporarily halts the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. This comes amid tensions between the United States and Ankara, which is currently holding an American pastor hostage, among other political moves.
The $717 billion measure includes a bipartisan measure honoring a decade-long memorandum of understanding between America and Israel, with the United States giving $3.8 billion annually to the Jewish state.
The NDAA, titled the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for 2019,” authorizes funds for research and development pertaining to weapon-defense systems, including the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems told help Israel defend against missile and rocket threats. Additionally, the law provides $50 million for joint U.S.-Israeli work on counter-tunnel technology, which has emerged as a major security threat to Israel in recent years from the Palestinian terror group Hamas.
The annual military blueprint also temporarily blocks the U.S. delivery of the jets to Turkey in response to the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, whom the country accuses of participating in the failed 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Earlier this month, the United States slapped sanctions on two top Turkish government officials involved in Brunson’s detention. The White House also placed aluminum and steel tariffs on Turkey, and Trump said last Friday that he approved a doubling of those tariffs. The tariffs and sanctions have caused Turkey’s currency, the lira, to crash.
Diliman Abdulkader, director of the Kurdish Project at the Endowment for Middle East Truth, helped advise lawmakers regarding the Turkey provision in the NDAA and supports the current U.S. measures against Turkey.