F-35 fighter jet.
(photo credit: LOCKHEED MARTIN)
WASHINGTON – US inter-agency officials began a week of meetings with Israeli national security leadership on Monday, entering the final stage of talks over a new decade-long US defense package.
Leading the delegation to Washington is Yaakov Nagel, acting head of Israel’s National Security Council.
The discussions are “aimed at concluding” the Memorandum of Understanding, which will amount to the largest foreign aid guarantee in US history, a senior Obama administration official told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
“We are not going to speculate about potential timelines,” the official said. “Since the talks began, we have held several rounds of serious and productive discussions, which we expect to continue this week.”
The White House, the official continued, “remains prepared to sign a new MOU with Israel, which would include both FMF [foreign military financing] funds and an unprecedented multi-year commitment of missile defense funding.”
The deal is expected to clock in at around $38 billion over 10 years, and will incorporate missile defense funding – an item that had been left out of the previous MOU, set to expire in October 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to be fighting to allow some of these defense dollars to be spent in Israel on the country’s own defense industry, the US is negotiating to do away with this provision.
The structure of the agreement is largely in place, however.
The deal is not expected to be completed during Nagel's visit, although Israeli and US officials alike seem prepared to conclude the deal within months, if not weeks.