Israel to Receive Record US Military Aid

Israeli "Iron Dome" Missile Defense System

Israeli “Iron Dome” Missile Defense System

By Ross Krasner

Photograph of Iron Dome anti-missile defense courtesy of The Economist

Despite a high-profile political battle over the nuclear deal with Iran, the strategic relationship between America and Israel is about to become stronger than ever.

This week, a delegation from the United States is expected to arrive in Israel to work to finalize a military aid agreement over the next 10 years.

The deal, known as the “memorandum of understanding,” will start in the 2019 fiscal year beginning in October 2018 and looks to be even more lucrative than the first one agreed to in 2007 which is set to expire.

Israel’s annual military aid package according to one report is expected to increase from about $3.1 to $4.1 billion a year. As part of the last agreement, Israel must spend at least 75 percent of the military aid in America.

The agreement comes in wake of an extremely contentious fight over the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed the U.S. lifting Iranian sanctions in response to some scale back of its nuclear program.

Just before the deal was finalized, Netanyahu spoke in front of Congress at former Speaker John Boehner’s invitation trying to sway members from supporting the agreement in a move that was seen by some Democrats as going around the President.

Netanyahu’s polarizing antics during the Iran debate at times appeared reactionary and shortsighted but as the focus pivots to the upcoming U.S. military aid package, it appears he is using the Iran deal as leverage to boost an already hefty sum of military aid.

“An answer for preserving [Israel’s] qualitative military edge is required — and everyone is aware of this,” said a senior Israeli defense official.

Israel refused to negotiate the framework for military aid before the conclusion of the congressional debate of the Iran deal, a move that has now given them a boost in negotiations.

From Israel’s perspective, the consequences of the Iran deal are much more dire than a negotiating card, however.

According to Secretary of State John Kerry – a lead negotiator of the nuclear deal – said last week some of the sanctions relief “will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists. You know, to some degree, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every component of that can be prevented.”

While there still remain disagreements in the plan, expect the Memorandum of Understanding to dominate news surrounding these two countries’ relationship.

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