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Sunday, September 18, 2016

US and Israel agree to $38 billion defense aid deal

According to the Times of Israel the U.S. and Israel have agreed to a defense aid deal that would be worth $38 billion over the course of the next ten years. Israel has pledged not to seek more funding from the U.S. Congress

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The report on the deal was broadcast on Channel 2 and claims the deal will be signed within days. The deal includes a provision which would see a reduction of U.S. spending on Israel's arms industry over the next six years.
In spite of the size of the deal, it was held up by Sen. Lindsey Graham who wanted an even larger aid program and objected to the lack of Congressional involvement in the deal. Graham said: “I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill. We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.” Graham said that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had told him that he was delaying the bill by not agreeing to change the appropriation markup back to the lower amount of $3.1 billion. Graham said: ‘Tell the administration to go F themselves.’” Apparently, Israel is siding with the administration on the matter. According to the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, the agreement would run until 2029 and would be the largest aid package to any other country ever.
While the present package comes to $3 billion annually, Israel has asked that for the next 10 years the amount be $3.7 billion annually. However, Israel has asked to a separate deal for missile defense spending. Israel sees the aid as allowing it to keep a qualitative edge over countries such as Iran seen as a threat. Missile defense techniques developed in Israel using the U.S. funds have been made available to U.S. defense contractors.
Both Israel and the White House would like to announce the completed deal before President Obama leaves office, and the sooner the better. Obama wants to establish a legacy of strong U.S. support for Israel and its security. While the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) has been agreed upon for several weeks, Obama wants assurance that Congress will accept the deal and not try to undermine it. In spite of being urged to agree to it by Israeli PM Netanyahu, Senator Graham still opposes it complaining that the Congress has no obligation to support the bill since it was not involved in negotiations. Graham also objected to a provision in the agreement that would not allow Israel to lobby Congress for more money during the life of the agreement. During wartime, it would still be allowed to do so. However, Graham also objected to missile defense funding being part of the agreement rather than being granted as requested. The amount granted in the deal should be a base amount but more should be granted if needed according to Graham. Every Democrat on Graham's committee had voted for his bil, and 37 senators signed a letter asking Congress to increase Israeli missile-defense funding above the administration's request. Apparently there is some concern within Israel that extending negotiations beyond Obama's last term could result in the issue of support for Israel being politicized within the U.S.


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