Trial of the Iron Dome system in the US..
(photo credit: RAFAEL ADVANCED DEFENSE SYSTEMS)
The United States and Israel have reached final agreement on a record new package of at least $38 billion in US military aid and the 10-year pact is expected to be signed within days, sources close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
The deal will represent the biggest pledge of US military assistance ever made to any country but also includes major concessions granted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to officials on both sides.
Those include Israel's agreement not to seek additional funds from Congress beyond what will be guaranteed annually in the new package, and also to phase out a special arrangement that has allowed Israel to spend part of its US aid on its own defense industry instead of on American-made weapons, the officials said.
Drawn-out aid negotiations
have underscored continuing friction between US President Barack Obama
and Netanyahu over last year's US-led nuclear deal with Iran, Israel's arch-foe. The United States and Israel have also been at odds over the Palestinians.
But Netanyahu decided it would be best to forge a new arrangement with Obama, who leaves office in January, rather than hoping for better terms from the next US administration, according to officials on both sides.
A deal now allows him to avoid uncertainties surrounding the next president, whether Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump, and to give Israel's defense establishment the ability to plan ahead.
Obama's aides want a new deal before his presidency ends, seeing it as an important part of his legacy. Republican critics accuse him of not being attentive enough to Israel's security, which the White House strongly denies.
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