Barak 58 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
With or without a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel will have to
significantly increase its defense spending in the next budget, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu has said in private meetings over the last few
According to Netanyahu, this increase is necessary to provide an
answer to the increasing threats facing the country, including tens of thousands
of missiles aimed at Israel.
A peace agreement would also require
increased spending for security, something he said would likely necessitate
financial assistance from the West to provide Israel with the security apparatus
needed to compensate for the agreement.
One possible source of funding
for the defense increase will be the profits the country stands to gain from the
recent natural gas finds, he has said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak,
meanwhile, was quoted in a Wall Street Journal interview Tuesday as saying that
Israel would need to boost military spending and may seek an additional $20
billion in US security aid to deal with the threats arising from the upheaval in
“The issue of qualitative military aid for Israel becomes
more essential for us, and I believe also more essential for you,” Barak was
quoted as saying.
“It might be wise to invest another $20 billion to
upgrade the security of Israel for the next generation or so... A strong,
responsible Israel can become a stabilizer in such a turbulent
Aides to Barak, however, downplayed the comment, saying he was
merely offering a suggestion about how recent popular uprisings in the Middle
East might require Israel to reexamine its military needs.
If Israel were
to make such a request, it would be evaluated in keeping with American’s
commitment to maintaining Israel’s regional supremacy, a State Department
“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... taken action to expand it to an
The official pointed to an increase in security
assistance, security consultations and support for Israel’s new Iron Dome
missile defense system.
Israel receives $3b. in US aid per year, of which
the overwhelming majority is earmarked for military use to help Israel maintain
its qualitative military edge.
The Wall Street Journal quoted defense
analysts as saying Israel spends some $17b. a year – including the $3b. from the
US – on defense, a sum that is roughly 9 percent of the country’s gross national
In December, the US House agreed to add $205 million in funding
to Israel to help pay for the Iron Dome project, a shortrange rocket defense