USA TODAY US Edition

U.S. shows sup­port for Is­rael with aid pack­age

Record $38B deal sends mes­sage in chal­leng­ing times

- Oren Dorell @oren­dorell USA TO­DAY

The United States agreed Wed­nes­day to pro­vide Is­rael a record $38 bil­lion in mil­i­tary aid over the next decade. The pact is a sign of the two na­tions’ close al­liance de­spite ma­jor dif­fer­ences over Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram and other poli­cies.

The agree­ment, which equates to $3.8 bil­lion a year, is the largest bi­lat­eral mil­i­tary aid pack­age and in­cludes $5 bil­lion for mis­sile de­fense, ad­di­tional F-35 joint strike fighters and in­creased mo­bil­ity for ground forces.

The aid pack­age “is just the most re­cent re­flec­tion of my stead­fast com­mit­ment to the se­cu­rity of the state of Is­rael,” Pres­i­dent Obama said in a state­ment.

It will make “a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to Is­rael’s se­cu­rity in what re­mains a dan­ger­ous neigh­bor­hood,” Obama said. “The con­tin­ued sup­ply of the world’s most ad­vanced weapons tech­nol­ogy will en­sure that Is­rael has the abil­ity to de­fend it­self from all man­ner of threats.”

“When our part­ners and al­lies are more se­cure, the United States is more se­cure,” na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Su­san Rice said at a sign­ing cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day at the State De­part­ment.

“The U.S. is send­ing a mes­sage to the re­gion that de­spite all the dif­fer­ences be­tween us and Is­rael over the last few years, none of Is­rael’s ad­ver­saries have a pa­tron will­ing to com­mit as much money to their de­fense as the United States,” said David Makovsky, an an­a­lyst at the Washington In­sti­tute for Near East Pol­icy, a think­tank in Washington.

Some crit­ics faulted de­tails of the agree­ment, which they said would hurt Is­rael’s abil­ity to ask for more as­sis­tance in emer­gen­cies or as se­cu­rity con­di­tions change.

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., called the me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween the two al­lies im­por­tant but slammed a pro­vi­sion that would limit Is­rael from seek­ing ad­di­tional U.S. funds ex­cept in times of war.

“Con­gress is not a party to this agree­ment, nor is this agree­ment bind­ing on fu­ture con­gresses,” Gra­ham said in a state­ment. “Con­gress has an in­de­pen­dent duty to make a de­ci­sion about the proper level of sup­port for Is­rael or our other al­lies. To sug­gest this (agree­ment) will bind fu­ture pres­i­dents and con­gresses for the next decade is con­sti­tu­tion­ally flawed and im­prac­ti­cal.”

Gra­ham told USA TO­DAY he in­tends to pro­pose a fur­ther in­crease of aid to Is­rael, say­ing some in Con­gress are dis­cussing a wish list of ad­vanced weaponry that would greatly ex­pand Is­rael’s mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties. “As Iran de­vel­ops its mis­sile threat, let’s push back. Let the ay­a­tol­lah know the more provoca­tive you are, the more we’re go­ing to spend on Is­rael’s de­fense,” Gra­ham said.

The agree­ment, which will go into ef­fect in 2019, rep­re­sents a 20% in­crease from the pre­vi­ous U.S. aid agree­ment of $3.1 bil­lion an­nu­ally. It in­cludes $500 mil­lion for mis­sile de­fense to re­place up to $700 mil­lion that Con­gress had ap­proved for Is­raeli mis­sile-de­fense sys­tems in re­cent spend­ing bills.

Jonathan Schanzer, vice pres­i­dent for re­search at the Foun­da­tion for De­fense of Democ­ra­cies, a Washington think-tank, said the new yearly total, $3.8 bil­lion, does not rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease over­all.

The agree­ment “forced Is­rael to think about the long-term ca­pa­bil­i­ties they would like to have,” but a 10-year agree­ment is far too long, Schanzer said.

“None of Is­rael’s ad­ver­saries have a pa­tron will­ing to com­mit as much money to their de­fense as the United States.”

David Makovsky, Washington In­sti­tute for Near East Pol­icy

 ?? ATEF SAFADI, EURO­PEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY ?? Is­raeli po­lice and Druze cit­i­zens in­spect a plan­ta­tion hit by a pro­jec­tile launched from Syria near the Druze vil­lage of Ma­j­dal Shams in the Golan Heights, Is­rael, on Tues­day.
ATEF SAFADI, EURO­PEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY Is­raeli po­lice and Druze cit­i­zens in­spect a plan­ta­tion hit by a pro­jec­tile launched from Syria near the Druze vil­lage of Ma­j­dal Shams in the Golan Heights, Is­rael, on Tues­day.
 ?? PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS, AP ?? Pres­i­dent Obama and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu tour the Iron Dome Bat­tery de­fense sys­tem in Tel Aviv in 2013.
PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS, AP Pres­i­dent Obama and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu tour the Iron Dome Bat­tery de­fense sys­tem in Tel Aviv in 2013.

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