Brigadier General Yaakov Nagel, Israel’s acting National Security Council, arrived in Washington DC on Tuesday to meet with President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in preparations for signing a new US military aid package. The new US aid deal, which the two governments have been negotiating since November 2015, awards Israel $38 billion over 10 years.
Nagel met with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to work out the final details before leaving for Washington — including the text of the official announcements. The new aid package is expected to average $3.8 billion a year, a considerable cut from Netanyahu’s initial request for $4.5 billion. The deal is also contingent on Israel agreeing not to approach Congress for additional funds, as in the case of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which Congress has been paying for outside the annual aid package. Now an estimated $5 billion out of the package will be spent over 10 years on missile defense development.
In other words, the new aid package is only adding $300 million to the previous amount. To remind you, the sum of $3 billion annually was set during the Camp David peace negotiations with Egypt, as compensation to Israel for giving up the Sinai peninsula as a military asset. That amount has never been raised in close to 40 years, even though the current value of that annual package would have been $10.48 billion.
The critical disagreement between the two sides over the current deal has been whether or not Israel could continue to invest a percentage of the aid package in Israeli made military products. The Obama Administration wanted the entire amount to stay in US corporations, which would have been devastating to Israeli manufacturers and to the IDF. A short episode during the 2014 Gaza War, in which the Obama Administration stopped shipping to Israel all defense items, including Hellfire missiles, served as a memorable lesson to the Israeli security apparatus about the need to increase its self-reliance.
The new deal ended up adding six years in which Israel can continue to spend as much as 26% of the US aid money on Israeli made products, as well as another 13% for fuel purchases. By the seventh year, or halfway into Clinton’s or Trump’s second term, the Israeli military industrial complex would have to quit US aid cold turkey — Unless Netanyahu or his successor is able to renegotiate that part — depending on who is in the White House and who controls Congress at the time.David Israel