Signing of United States military aid agreement for Israel approaching

The new Memorandum of Understanding "constitutes the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in USA history", the State Department said in a statement. Despite that aid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly demanded as much as US$5 billion in aid a year. Over the last few years Congress approved an additional $500 million annually to be added to the original base sum, which made the total amount of military aid transferred to Israel annually approximately $3.5 billion.

The officials say the deal phases out Israel's ability to spend part of the funds on Israeli military products, rather than American military industries.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Nagel is in Washington to hammer out the final details on the deal, including the wording of a joint statement marking its announcement.

Yaakov Nagel, the acting head of the Israeli National Security Council, secretly left Israel for the USA in order to sign the military aid agreement. Both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have vowed to protect Israel's security if elected. Once the agreement is signed, Israel will have six years to spend some of the money on its defense industries.

The $3.8 billion in annual payments that Israel will receive is up from the $3.1 billion that the US was paying under the previous agreement.

The 10-year aid packages underpin Washington's congressionally mandated requirement to help maintain Israel's "qualitative military edge" in the region.

The pact will not be signed by Obama and Netanyahu, who have had a fraught relationship, but by two of their senior aides, in keeping with the way the two governments have formally sealed previous deals of this type.

Reuters reports that Netanyahu gave ground on several major points.

What's more, he has also opposed US requirements that some of that money is spent with USA military contractors rather than Israeli ones.

Netanyahu and Obama both plan to be in NY next week for U.N. General Assembly meetings, but officials have not announced any plans for formal meeting.

The US has agreed to supply Israel with military aid for the next 10 years in a record $38bn (£28.bn) deal - the largest in US history.

USA congressional approval is needed each year for disbursement of the aid to Israel as part of the annual budget process.

  • Jon Douglas