US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The new Memorandum of Understanding governing US military financial aid to Israel over the next decade will include a significant increase, but limit Congress’s ability to add supplemental military financial aid on a year-to-year basis, according to a report in Defense News.
According to the report, an Israeli cabinet minister said that the proposed package would start at an annual $3.8 billion, and grow incrementally until it reaches a total of more than $40b. over the 10-year period, beginning in 2018.
The current 10-year MoU, which was signed in 2007, provided Israel with some $30b. in financial military aid.
According to the report, although the package will include more money, Israel will have to forfeit Congressional “plus-ups” to the president’s annual budget, except in extreme emergency cases.
According to the report, these “plus-ups” have amounted to $1.9b. over the past 10 years, such as last year’s Congress omnibus spending bill that appropriated an additional $487m. for Israel’s missile defense programs.
Of the military financial aid Israel receives, it is obligated to spend all but 26.3% of it in the US, something that is not expected to change under the new framework.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed the cabinet last week on the status of the talks with the US over the package, saying that the deal may not be concluded during the remaining months of US President Barack Obama’s term because the issues are complex, detailed and take time.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Netanyahu was asked whether he felt that Obama was responsive to providing Israel with “even more security guarantees and cooperation” than in the past.
“In terms of protecting Israel, and by extension protecting our part of the region, the American assistance to Israel is about $3.1b. a year,” he said. “We’re talking about a bigger package.”
Netanyahu stressed, however, that this figure pales in comparison to the billions of dollars Iran will have at its disposal for nefarious purposes in the region as a result of sanctions relief.
“I think we’ll probably reach a successful conclusion, I hope in the coming months,” he said.
Israel has argued that a significant increase in the military aid package is needed in light of the recently signed nuclear agreement with Iran and the new strategic threats this presents for Israel and the region.