– Negotiations over U.S aid to Israel halts over missile defense.
– Israel calls for a dedicated missile defense funding.
– Washington is adamant that US defense contractors should benefit more from the deal.
Negotiations over U.S aid to Israel halts over missile defense.
According to leaks from officials, discussions between the United States and Israel over a new military aid package have been met with problem. Israel calls for a dedicated missile defense funding while Washington is adamant that US defense contractors should benefit more from the deal.
Reuters reported that the current aid package amounts to $30 billion, and will expire in 2018. Israel is demanding for almost $10 billion more from the new arrangement.
Washington is proposing a lesser increase, at the same time insisting that the larger share of the aid and finally all of it be spent on purchases from US defense contractors rather than locally.
Part of the increase demanded by Israel would be guaranteeing a devoted stream of funding for the missile defense systems, which is at the moment funded by ad-hoc resolutions of the US Congress, independently from the military aid package. Israel is demanding for at least $3.7 billion a year under the new memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Just last month, the White House said that its proposition was the “largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in US history,” without specifying an amount. According to officials, the US counter-offer has been between $3.5 and $3.7 billion per year, but it was vague on whether this included any money for missile defense.
Washington purportedly proposed $4.5 billion a year in July 2015, following the nuclear deal with Iran that Israel remains opposed to.
In spite of this, US President Barack Obama wishes to make sure that more of the aid is spent on US-made weapons. The current arrangement permits Israel to spend 26.3 percent of the aid on its own defense industry, totaling some $800 million a year.
Washington desires to regularly phase out that provision, with the hope that by the end of the 10-year term all of the funds would go to US defense contractors in its place.
Essentially, the Israeli defense industry produces and sells a number of sophisticated systems to the US, such as the Litening precision targeting system and technology used in the Joint Helmet-Mounted Display system for F-22 fighter pilots, according to Wired.
Israel’s friendly relationship with the Pentagon also signifies the country will be the only buyer of the F-35 Lightning II jet permitted to moderate the pricey, next-generation fighters and service them locally.
In official statements to Reuters, both the US and Israel have declared only that the talks were ongoing and declined to offer any further details. The agency’s revelations come as Israel celebrates Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut).
In the meantime, Israeli media report that the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is expected to pay a visit to the country after securing the nomination at the party convention in July. Trump campaign officials have shrugged off the rumors.
Although the billionaire tycoon has sworn his friendship and support to Israel, one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, was among the 17 Senators that did not sign last month’s letter urging the White House to increase military aid to the Jewish state according to reports.