US to sign record $38 billion defence deal with Israel
Israel has long been a major recipient of US aid, mostly in the form of military assistance against a backdrop flowing conflict with Palestinians. Photograph: (Reuters)
The United States and Israel have agreed on a record $38 billion deal to provide Israel with military aid for 10 years from 2019, the US state department said Tuesday.
Enshrining defence funding for Washington’s closest Middle East ally, the countries will sign the memorandum of understanding on Wednesday, it said, that "constitutes the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US history."
Jacob Nagel,Israel’s chief negotiator, and acting head of Netanyahu’s national security council, arrived in Washington in preparation for the signing ceremony, and the White House also began briefing members of Congress on the deal.
According to AFP, US military aid to Israel currently stands at $3.1 billion per year although officials did not share a figure.
The deal also includes major concessions by granted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu including Israel’s agreement not to seek additional funds from Congress beyond what will be guaranteed annually in the new package, Reuters reported today.
The agreement also includes phasing out a special arrangement that has allowed Israel to spend part of its US aid on its own defence industry instead of on American-made weapons, the officials said.
Interestingly, the deal comes amid mounting frustration within US President Barack Obama's administration at Israel's policy of building settler homes on occupied Palestinian territory.
Washington earlier warned that Netanyahu`s policies, along with Palestinian violence, are putting at risk hopes of an eventual peace deal.
Nearly 10 months of drawn-out aid negotiations have also underscored continuing friction between Obama and Netanyahu over last year's US-led nuclear deal with Iran, an accord the Israeli leader opposed.
But United States' number one ally in the region remains a big customer for US arms exports.
The 10-year package will help in maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region.
(WION with inputs from agencies)