Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion airport on May 23, 2017.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
The US has promised to increase military aid to Israel to help maintain the country's military edge in the region as it faces mounting threats from its neighbors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he spoke at Wednesday's Mount Herzl ceremony marking Jerusalem Day.
“The US has promised to maintain Israel’s qualitative advantage in the Middle East,” the premier stated. Netanyahu then revealed that three days earlier, before US President Donald Trump's visit to the Jewish state, "the US added another $75 million to the aid package for [Israel's] missile defense program."
Trump’s promise to preserve Israel’s advantage came amid concerns in Jerusalem about the recently announced $110 billion US-Saudi Arabia arms deal.
Marking the victory in the 1967 Battle of Jerusalem at the capital’s military cemetery, Netanyahu added that while Israel greatly appreciates the US assistance and support, “history has proven that Israel’s security depends on our readiness and our ability to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat.”
In September 2016, Israel inked a landmark deal with the US, who agreed to transfer $38 billion to Israel until 2028.
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The deal incorporates several budget lines that have previously been negotiated and approved by the United States Congress each year, and requires Israel to abide by these terms over the course of the next decade, through 2029, without further lobbying of the US legislature for additional funds.
Israel received $3.1b. in foreign military financing over that fiscal year, which will be followed by $3.3b. in the subsequent years, plus $500 million designated to missile defense. Israel will return any money Congress may allocate in its 2017-2018 budget for Israel beyond the $3.1b., said Israel’s acting National Security Adviser Yaakov Nagel, who negotiated the deal on Israel’s behalf.
Gil Hoffman and Michael Wilner contributed to this report.