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Record $38 billion US military aid package for Israel set to be signed this week

The price on the Israeli side involves major concessions granted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

President Barack Obama Meets With Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu At The White House

 

Reports indicate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on the verge of getting a US signature to the largest ever military aid agreement in its history. The new deal, an extension of its expiring existing agreement, apparently includes a record total of $38 billion in a new 10 year package of military aid, going out to 2029.

If it proceeds this will be the biggest pledge of U.S. military assistance ever made to any country.  The agreement is expected to be signed this week, according to International and Israeli media, unless Congress intervenes in the process in order to protect its prerogatives and have its say.

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Nevertheless Netanyahu had to make some concessions to close the deal, with officials saying Netanyahu had originally sought upwards of $4.5 billion a year.

The agreement is also said to include terms under which Israel will be prohibited from making additional funds requests from Congress beyond what will be guaranteed annually in the new package, and also to gradually phase out a special arrangement that has allowed Israel to spend part of its U.S. aid on its own defense industry,  instead of on American-made weapons, the officials told Reuters.

According to the prospective agreement, which will go into effect upon the expiration of the current package in 2018, the US will provide Israel with the  financial package along with missile defense systems which are now to be included.

Reuters reports that Netanyahu gave ground on several major points. He conceded to a U.S. demand for a gradual phasing-out of the amount of aid money – now 26.3 percent – that Israel can spend on its own military industries rather than on American products. The provision originated in the 1980s to help Israel build up its defense industry, which is now a major global player.

The ten-year military defense deal is currently being held up only by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Washington Post reported.

Israeli and American officials have been negotiating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for months, eventually settling on a decade-long deal which the US says would increase Israel’s military aid package from $3.1 billion to $3.3 billion. US officials have called it “the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in US history.”

While now complete, the deal therefore has yet to be signed and sealed, though senior Israeli official Brig. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Nagel did travel to Washington in July for the last round of talks before finalization.

According to the Washington Post, Senator Graham, who heads the Senate appropriations committee overseeing the foreign affairs budget, has been angered by Congress’s exclusion from the negotiations and believes that the legislature should not stand by and accept whatever the White House hands them.

“I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill, ” Graham told the Post. “We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.”

 

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