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Published On: Tue, Oct 4th, 2016

Israel and the US sign a record weapons deal of $38 billion with a twist

US President Barack Obama says that the 10-year, $38 billion weapons deal will help shore up Israel’s security in an environment of ‘dangerous neighborhood’. They signed a record deal to offer military assistance to Israel over a period of 10 years, perhaps the largest agreement ever done by the US with any other country. Ensuing 10 rigorous months of tense negotiations, the 2 allies ultimately finalised the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) followed by a signing ceremony in Washington DC. In a statement to Reuters news agency, President Obama has said that both the PM, Benjamin Netanyahu and he are convinced that this new MOU will make a noteworthy contribution to the security of Israel which is otherwise perched between dangerous neighborhoods.

Under the terms of this record military aid deal and as per Israel news, they will draw $3.8 billion in a year from the US, a figure which was up from $3.1 billion which Washington gives Israel under their 10 year deal which is set to end in 2018. The present agreement between the US and Israel was described as the biggest pledge of reciprocal military assistance ever to be written in the pages of US history. Nevertheless, this MOU also involves some major buybacks by the Israeli government which can no longer seek surplus additional funds from the US Congress above this new deal.

This deal is different from the previous US-Israel aid deals – Where’s the twist?

photo screenshot White House video, cropped

photo screenshot White House video, cropped

According to this military aid deal, a compelling portion of the received funds are expected to be leveraged to upgrade the air force of Israel to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter aircraft. Though the main clauses of the memorandum haven’t been released officially by either of the countries, it has got a number of conditions which make it different from all the previously signed US-Israel aid packages.

This deal has been structured in such a way that a major portion of Israeli defense spending goes to the US. The long-awaited special arrangement of Israel to obtain funds from the US previously admitted Israel to spend 28% of the money on Israeli hand-made defense items. But this specific provision will phase out over the initial 5 years of the deal. Capitol Hill sources mentioned that as per the deal Israel can’t lobby Congress for more funds unless and until there’s a war breaking out in Israel. Funds for all kinds of missile defense are included within the $38 billion deal signed with President Obama. It also states that Israel will not be allowed to use any funds provided by the US for fuel.

The US State Department stated that they would not comment anything on the deal now apart from the fact sheet which was released online. The online document notes that this new deal of $3.8 billion per annum, if compared with the previous deal of $3.1 billion, is an increase by every single measure.

How is Israel reacting to this military aid deal?

The bigger military aid between US and Israel is ringing bells within the Israeli military industry and Israel Defense Forces as they fear to hurt the war footing, product development and quality control of the country. Some of Israel’s bigger contractors are owners of smaller US companies, which would in turn allow Israel to spend money in the US as per agreement done on the deal. Other Israeli companies may even watch out for buying small defense contractors in America.

Pieter Wezeman, a researcher at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, has tracked the sales of weapons to the Middle East for many decades now and he believes that this MOU with Israel will maintain the status quo. Israel will now keep up a qualitative benefit over probably regional adversaries.

photo Ron Almo

photo Ron Almo

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