Barak 58 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Aides to Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday dismissed reports that he will ask the US to increase its annual military aid to Israel by $20 billion, saying that the statement made in an interview this week with the Wall Street Journal was merely a suggestion about how recent popular uprisings in the Middle East may require Israel to reexamine its military needs.
“The issue of qualitative military aid for Israel becomes more essential for us, and I believe also more essential for you. It might be wise to invest another $20 billion to upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation or so,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Barak as saying.
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Barak added, “A strong responsible Israel can become a stabilizer in such a turbulent region.”
If Israel were to make such a request, a State Department official said
Tuesday, it would be evaluated in keeping with America’s commitment to
maintaining Israel’s regional supremacy.
“Each and every security assistance request from the Israeli government
is evaluated in light of our policy to uphold Israel’s qualitative
military edge,” the official said.
The official stressed that the Obama administration has “not only
honored and re-energized America’s enduring commitment to Israel’s
security, but has taken action to expand it to an unprecedented level,”
pointing to an increase in security assistance, security consultations
and support for Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system.
During the interview, Barak also restated Israeli fears that Egypt may
renege on its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, quoting a top Egyptian
official who reportedly warned him recently that whatever new government
emerges in Cairo, it will probably have a different approach to ties
with Israel and push for changes in the country's policies on the
"He told me, 'We're going to have a really open election ... Civic
parties will hire advisers from the US and Europe and find immediately
that what can bring them voters is hostility to America and Israel,"
Barak told the Journal
Israel receives $3 billion in US aid per year, of which the overwhelming
majority is earmarked for military use to help Israel maintain its
qualitative military edge in the region.
In December, the US House of Representatives agreed to add $205 million
in funding to Israel to help pay for the Iron Dome project, a
short-range rocket defense system.Hilary Leila Krieger contributed reporting from Washington.