US to offer Israel largest military aid package ever

The White House told members of U.S. Congress that it has offered to substantially sweeten a military aid package to Israel after months of negotiations.

Under the deal, the U.S. would insist that the tens of billions of dollars be spent on goods and services made in the US. This is a substantial change as a sizable portion of money spent now can be spent on Israeli-made goods as well as from other countries. The details of the new deal were laid out in a lengthy letter to Senators.
During the debate over Iran last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not negotiate a new aid package with Obama but once the deal lifting sanctions on Iran went into effect negotiations on a new package began again. The present deal expires in 2018.
Obama's national security adviser Susan Rrice and director of the Office of Management and Budget said that the Obama administration was ready to increase the present military aid package to Israel of almost $30 billion, and replace it with a new one that would be "the largest pledge of military assitance to any country in US history."
The new deal includes a 10-year pledge to fund Israeli missile defense systems doing away with unpredictable yearly installments that were contingent on the annual US procurement process. Rice and Donovan maintained that the agreement would build on the unparalleled support the US has provided Israel under Obama and that through word and deed the Obama administration has done more for Israel's security than any other in history. The Israeli PM has often been critical of Obama and objected to the US agreement with Iran.
Obama said he was anxious to complete the deal with Israel before he left office. Netanyahu too said he was anxious to complete the new military aid package. Some analysts think that Netanyahu may be waiting for a better deal with a new president but Israel denies this. Other analysts claim that Obama wants to finish the deal to show that he has not been too hard on Israel. The negotiations have been secret, although people close to the talks say that total aid could be as high as $40 billion. Ilan Goldberg, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security said: “The chances seem to be better now than they were a couple months ago” that the two sides will reach a deal. Clearly, they’re getting to the end one way or the other.”
The new deal will help US companies as during the current deal Israel has spent about $7.9 billion outside the US. Israel was allowed to spend about a quarter of its aid outside the US under the present package. No other recipient of US military aid has been allowed such leeway. The original idea was to help spur Israel's defense industry which is now booming.
The aid package is being offered even as criticism of Israel continues. A report by the Quartet :The report warned Israel needs to immediately stop expanding its settlements, and also stop its ongoing efforts to hinder the development of Palestinian territories. The report also called on the Palestinians to unite under a single, democratically-elected government.Israeli officials expressed outrage at the report claiming that the report "perpetuated the myth" that the settlements were a problem. Israel has recently budgeted an extra $18 million for West Bank settlements.
In response to Palestinian violence against Israelis, the Israeli military cordoned off the entire West Bank city of Hebron, putting about 700,000 people under a military blockade. In addition Israel has announced that it is intending to confiscate some of the tax money that it collects for Palestinians. Other measures are planned. Several ministers have gone on record that there should be more demolitions of Palestinian buildings and seizure of land to build settlements. None of these actions, some of which represent collective punishment, appear to have any influence on the Obama administrations' intent to send Israel even more military aid.


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