15 September 2016
The United States of America has signed a 38-billion-dollar military assistance package with Israel to cover the next decade.
A senior U.S. official said on Thursday in Washington that it was the largest such aid package in U.S. history, under a landmark agreement.
He said that the agreement was signed at the State Department by Thomas Shannon, U.S. Undersecretary of State and Jacob Nagel, acting Head of Netanyahu’s National Security Council.
The official said that 38 billion dollars Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covered U.S. fiscal years, 2019-2028, and succeeded the current 30 billion dollars MoU signed in 2007, which expires at the end of 2018.
He said that the deal included the annual payments of 3.3 billion dollars in so-called foreign military financing and 500 million dollars a year for Israeli missile defence funding, the first time this had been formally built into the aid pact.
“A phasing-out of a special arrangement that for decades has allowed Israel to use 26.3 per cent of the U.S. aid on its own defence industry instead of on American-made weapons.
“Elimination of a longstanding provision that has allowed Israel to use about 13 per cent of the U.S. aid to buy military fuel.
“The funding will allow Israel to update `the lion’s share’ of its fighter aircraft, including purchasing additional F-35 Joint Strike,’’ he said.
The official said that Israel was scheduled to receive 33 F-35 aircraft, the first two of which would be delivered in December.
He said that the deal would allow Israel to upgrade most of its fighter aircraft, improve its ground forces’ mobility and strengthen its missile defence systems.
Officials from both countries said that while the package constituted the most U.S. military aid ever given to any country, it entails concessions by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
They disclosed that the package included Israel’s promise not to seek additional funds from Congress beyond what would be guaranteed annually in the new package.
They noted that the new deal would phase out a special arrangement that had allowed Israel to spend part of its U.S. aid on its own defence industry instead of on American-made weapons.
The officials observed that the nearly 10 months of drawn-out aid negotiations underscored continuing friction between President Barack Obama and Netanyahu over last years.
Obama said in a statement that the 38-billion-dollar Israel aid package was to help ensure security.
He said that both countries were confident that the new MoU would make a significant contribution to Israel’s security in what remained a dangerous neighbourhood.