Israel, US to sign new deal on military aid package

Israel and the US have reached a deal on military aid to the Jewish state over the next decade amounting to approximately $38 billion and with certain provisos. 

Israel and the United States have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on security assistance by the US for Israel for the coming decade.

After months of negotiations, the US and Israel have agreed on a $38 billion assistance package to the IDF that will be provided over the next 10 years. It totals approximately $3.8 billion a year — up from the $3.1 billion the US gave Israel annually under the previous 10-year security assistance deal.

“This MOU constitutes the single largest pledge of assistance in US history,” Israel said in a statement.

The new MOU will be signed in a ceremony at the Department of State in Washington on Wednesday. Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, will represent the US, while Israel’s acting national security adviser, Jacob Nagel, will sign for Israel.

Rice said the deal will “constitute a significant increase in support, and provide Israel the funding to update much of its fighter aircraft fleet, substantially enhance the mobility of its ground forces and continue to strengthen its missile defense capabilities.”

Under the agreement, Israel’s ability to spend part of the funds in the Israel market will be gradually phased out over the course of the coming six years, eventually requiring all of the funds to be spent in the US. Israel’s preference for spending some of the funds internally had been a major sticking point in the deal, as it has spent 26% of the funds in the Israeli market under the previous deal.

The new agreement also eliminates Israel’s ability to spend a fraction of the funds on fuel for the IDF. Another new proviso has Israel agreeing not to ask Congress to approve further funding unless another war breaks out.

The new MOU also includes, for the first time, funding for Israel’s missile defense programs, which has become key to Israel’s defense in recent years. Under the previous arrangement, Congress approved funds for missile defense separately and on an annual basis.

Israel explains that predictability about US aid is imperative for long-term planning and development of its security.

While Israel had reportedly weighed the option of waiting to seal the deal with the next administration, the Obama administration has been eager to finalize the agreement before President Barack Obama leaves office to help bolster his legacy and counter criticism that his administration has been inadequately supportive of Israel.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group, praised Obama for completing the deal and said it would send “a strong message of deterrence” to Israel’s enemies.

“With these funds, Israel will be able to modernize and better equip its armed forces,” AIPAC said in a statement.

Congress still needs to formally approve the funding on an annual basis, but no obstacles are expected here.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama both plan to be in New York next week for UN General Assembly meetings, but officials have not announced any plans for a formal meeting.

By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.