View Full Version : Israel, United States Sign Record-High Military Aid Deal

08-16-2007, 08:53 AM
Israel, United States sign record-high military aid deal
United States offers Israel unprecedented $30-billion military aid package. ‘We look at this region and we see that a secure and strong Israel is in the interest of the United States,’ Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns says during signing ceremony in Jerusalem


Ronny Sofer

The United States offered Israel on Thursday an unprecedented $30-billion military aid package, bolstering its closest Mideast ally.

The aid deal signed in a ceremony in Jerusalem represents a 25 percent rise in US military aid to Israel, from a current $2.4 billion each year to $3 billion a year over 10 years.

New York Times says Bush administration will ask Congress to approve arms sales worth $20 billion to Saudi Arabia and neighbors; US allays Israeli concerns by offering Israel $30 billion over ten years

Nicholas Burns, the US Undersecretary of state for political affairs, and Israeli Foreign Minister Director-General Aharon Abramovitz signed the memorandum of understanding on the assistance at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

The package was meant in part to offset US plans to offer Saudi Arabia advanced weapons and air systems that would greatly improve the Arab country’s air force.

Israel has said it has no opposition to the US Aid to Saudi Arabia, which comes as the United States strengthens moderate Arabs in facing the growing influence of Iran.

The US Administration sees the regional threats to Israel - namely Iran, and the Hizbullah and Hamas militant groups - as threats to the United States as well, Burns said.

“We look at this region and we see that a secure and strong Israel is in the interest of the United States,” Burns said.

"The Middle East is more dangerous today than it was 10, 20 year ago…. The regional dangers seem only to increase as Iran develops nuclear technologies and along with Syria supports organizations like Hamas, Hizbullah and the Islamic Jihad.

"We will continue to show the same support to our other allies in the region, like Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain...the road to peace includes showing countries like Iran and Syria that the US reinforces its allies' militaries. Every peace agreement in the region was signed with that notion in mind," he added.

Congressional approval still needed
The chief of Israel’s central bank, Stanley Fischer, said the US aid is of “critical importance” to Israel, whose defense budget constitutes about 10 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.

The aid package to Israel was finalized in June in Washington between US President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Olmert has said the increase in military aid to Israel would guarantee its strategic superiority, despite upgrades to Arab countries in the region.

The US Has long-standing commitments to Israel and to Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel. Egypt currently gets $1.3 billion a year in military assistance.

At the same time, the US is seeking to strengthen other moderate Mideast allies, largely as a counterweight to Iran’s growing influence. The United States and Israel accuse Iran of developing nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

Iran, whose leader has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map, is viewed by Israel as its main enemy. Shiite Muslim Iran also concerns the Saudis and other Sunni-led Arab allies of the United States.

The Bush administration must still receive Congressional approval for the aid deals, but Burns said he believed there would be little opposition in the Senate and House to the Israeli package.

08-18-2007, 09:57 AM
U.S.: No strings attached to new defense package for Israel


By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

The new $30 billion American defense package for Israel is not conditioned on diplomatic progress or concessions to the Palestinians, a top U.S. aide said Thursday as representatives from both countries signed the memorandum of understanding in Jerusalem.

U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said the aid to Israel was meant to counter "an axis of cooperation between Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas that is responsible for the violence in the region."

The hike in aid constitutes a 25-percent increase to the $2.4 billion Jerusalem currently receives from Washington in annual military grants. Under the new agreement, the U.S. will transfer $30 billion to Israel over the next 10 years.

U.S. officials have said the package - which was announced last month and must still be approved by Congress - is designed to reassure Israel and Sunni Muslim Gulf countries of Washington's commitment to the Middle East despite its problems in Iraq. It would also strengthen the Gulf nations in the face of the growing clout of Shi'ite Iran and its nuclear program.

Under the plan, Israel would receive $2.55 billion in October 2008. This sum would increase by $150 million each year, until it reaches $3.1 billion in 2012. From that point, Israel would receive $3.1 billion a year, through 2017, for a total of $30 billion.

The agreement also permits Israel to convert into shekels 26.3 percent of the aid money, enabling it to procure defense equipment from Israeli companies. The rest of the aid must be used to buy equipment from U.S. arms manufacturers.

Burns signed the memorandum Thursday noon with Foreign Ministry Director General Aharon Abramovich. Burns met that morning with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who headed the Israeli team in negotiations with the United States. Burns then met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

At a ceremony in Jerusalem, the American said that "one of the major priorities for our government ... will be to help push forward a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians". At a press conference following the signing, Burns said: "A strong and secure Israel is an American interest.

"There is no question that ... the Middle East is a more dangerous region now even than it was 10 or 20 years ago and that Israel is facing a growing threat. It's immediate and it's also long-term," Burns told reporters.

According to the memorandum, an annual review will be conducted into the manner in which Israel spends the military assistance.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Wednesday with Burns in preparation for Thursday's signing. Olmert asked Burns to thank U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their efforts in transforming into a binding agreement the understandings with Olmert that were reached during his last visit to Washington.

"The aid agreement with the U.S. is an important and significant component for Israel, and proves once again the depth of the relationship between the two countries and the United States' commitment to Israel's security, and to preserving its qualitative advantage over other countries in the Middle East," Olmert said.

The United States is also proposing a large weapons package for Saudi Arabia, which has historically been an Israeli enemy but has indicated a willingness to attend a U.S.-backed peace conference with Israel in the fall.

Olmert has said he understands the U.S. need to bolster Saudi Arabia in facing Iran. "The increase in military aid to Israel would guarantee its strategic superiority," Olmert has said, despite upgrades to other Arab countries in the region.