Joint Statement of the U.S.-Israeli
Interparliamentary Commission
on National Security

Washington, D.C.

September 17, 1998


The relationship between the United States and Israel is strategic in the term’s deepest sense. It transcends shared military interests, as important as these are for both countries. The two countries’ essential bonds are philosophical commonly held convictions about the worth and rights of individual human beings, the ideas on which our respective democratic political institutions stand. This is the soundest basis for enduring international friendship and the best guarantee the two countries’ interests will harmonize when major challenges confront them.

The U.S.-Israeli Interparliamentary Commission

Few states are linked together, people-to-people, as intimately as are Israel and the United States. So it is fitting that their democratically elected representatives should be engaged in formal dialogue regarding issues of the greatest common concern. Accordingly, we have created the U.S.-Israeli Interparliamentary Commission on National Security, the first joint institution ever of the Congress and Knesset. The Commission is nonpartisan in both countries.

The Commission’s first meeting was convened in Washington, D.C. to address the danger of ballistic missiles in the hands of "rogue" and other hostile states. To this end, the Commission organized the first-ever joint legislative hearing of the House, Senate and Knesset, which took place on Monday, September 1-4, 1998. The hearing included testimony from the commander of the Patriot batteries in Israel during the Gulf War, and from American and Israeli families who lost loved ones or their homes to Iraqi SCUD missiles during that war.

Over the last four days, the Commission generated a series of substantive discussions among the Israeli and American legislators on missile threats, defense programs, strategy and related subjects.

The visiting Israeli Members of Knesset received classified briefings at the Pentagon, held discussions with officials at the State Department and participated in a site visit to the naval base at Norfolk, Virginia where they toured an Aegis guided missile cruiser. They were provided detailed information, in particular, on U.S. Army and Navy theater ballistic missile defense programs. They met and exchanged views also with non-governmental experts in the field, including members of the Rumsfeld Commission.

Findings

The Commission adopts the findings set forth in the attachment to this statement.

Special Remarks

The U.S. participants congratulated Israel on the success of the Arrow full-system test conducted on Monday, September 14, 1998.

The Israeli participants thanked the United States for the financial support and cooperation that has made the Arrow program possible and helped ensure its success.

The participants of both countries made a special point of highlighting the importance of the Arrow system and the countries’ common interest in continued U.S. support for Arrow.

Next Steps

The Commission is exploring legislative initiatives consistent with its findings, set forth in the attachment to this statement.

The Commission intends to meet again in December 1998 in Israel. Missile defense will remain the chief topic for the December meeting. The participants agreed to explore certain questions with their respective defense ministries on this subject in preparation for the December meeting.

In the future, the Commission will address other national security topics of importance to the two countries.


Source: Senator Jon Kyl.