New $38B Israeli aid deal signed


The United States on Wednesday signed a landmark agreement to provide Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, the largest such aid package in U.S. history.

USA and Israeli diplomats announced the largest military assistance package in United States history on 14 September in a $38 billion, 10-year package that will deliver an assortment of American-designed weapon systems, including Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing F-15 fighters to Tel Aviv.

Thomas Shannon, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Jacob Nagel, acting head of Israel's National Security Council, signed the MOU.

The deal, the largest such agreement the US has ever had with any country, amounts to $3.8 billion a year beginning in budget year 2019, compared with $3.1 billion the USA gave Israel annually under the current 10-year deal that expires in 2018. Among other restrictions, the deal also stops Israel from spending a fraction of the fund on fuel for its military, reported AP.

US President Barack Obama has not had the warmest of relations with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Washington in recent weeks stepped up its criticism of Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian land. "No other Administration has done more for Israel's security, and U.S. commitment to Israel will remain unshakeable", Rice said.

More news: Tesla's AutoPilot mixed signals forced Mobileye to bolt
More news: Lula to respond to charges he masterminded Brazil graft
More news: Apple's iOS 10 update is causing major headaches for some users

USA administration officials hinted that Israel would get a significantly improved memorandum of understanding (MOU) if Mr Netanyahu agreed to drop or even tone down his opposition to the nuclear deal, but the Israeli leader continued to criticise the deal even after it was signed. In another apparent concession, it has agreed not to ask Congress to approve more funds than are included in the deal unless a new war breaks out.

Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser said the negotiations had been "completely unrelated" to the debate over whether the president should weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking before the ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the United States for what he described as the "unprecedented" and "historic" defense aid package.

"The next decade of American military support for Israel is spelled out in a memorandum of understanding our countries have been discussing in recent months", United States ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said this week. The State Department said it strongly disagreed with Netanyahu's characterization, calling the reference to ethnic cleansing "inappropriate and unhelpful".

The fact that the commitment comes from a Democratic president - despited public spats over the Iran nuclear agreement and Israeli construction in the West Bank - makes that message even stronger, Makovsky said. This amount is the largest the USA has ever given to another country. Part of the annual $3.8 billion in assistance, $500 million, will support Israeli missile defense. The US and Israel have not disclosed the exact sum, but officials familiar with the deal said it totals $3.8bn a year - up from the $3.1bn the US gave Israel annually under the previous 10-year deal.