After 10 months of negotiations, The United States and Israel have finally agreed on one of the largest military aid packages in modern times. In the next 10 years, Washington has pledged to provide Israel with 38 billion U.S. dollars in military assistance. The funds will be used to strenghten Israel’s air defense systems, to upgrade most of its figher aircraft and to improve the mobility of its ground forces.
“This is the single largest pledge of military assistance-to any country-in American history. It’s a reminder of the United States’ unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” said U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
According to the terms of the deal, Israel must renounce lobbying the United States Congress for additional funds in the next decade. Also, the money must be used to buy U.S.-made weapons instead of spending it to further develop its own defense industry. The deal will come into effect starting in 2019 and follows in the footsteps of the previous memorandum worth 30 billion U.S. dollars, signed in 2007 and due to expire in 2018.
“I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic deal. I also thank our many, many friends in the American Congress and the American people for their support, bi-partisan support from the United States,” said Israeli prime minister Netanyahu in a televised address.
According to chief negotiator Yaakov Nagel, Israel’s acting National Security Adviser Yaakov Nagel, Israel will receive 3,1 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of foreign military financing next fiscal year, followed by 3,3 billion U.S. dollars in the next years, plus $500 million U.S. dollars a year dedicated to improving Israel’s missile defense system.
“For as long as the State of Israel has existed, the United States has been Israel’s greatest friend and partner, a fact underscored again today,” said U.S. president Barack Obama in a written statement.
Obama’s statement was endorsed by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, who stated that the deal underlines “the common security interests, shared values and deep historical ties” that have strenghtened the U.S. – Israeli alliance over the past decades.
The opportunity of the deal was supported also by the U.S. military. Also on Wednesday, retired U.S. Brigadier General Russell D. Howard, an American veteran Special Forces officer and academic, said at the IDC Herzliya Conference on Counter-Terrorism that “Israel is a key piece in the puzzle” to solving the world’s growing terrorism problem.