US and Israel sign record $38bn military aid deal

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The United States has signed a record $38bn deal
to provide Israel with military assistance
over a 10-year period
– the largest such
agreement ever by the US with any country.
Following 10 months of frequently tense
negotiations, the two allies finalised the
memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a
signing ceremony on Wednesday in Washington
DC.
“Both Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and I
are confident that the new MOU will make a
significant contribution to Israel’s security in what
remains a dangerous neighbourhood,” US
President Barack Obama said in a statement,
according to Reuters news agency.
Under the terms, Israel will receive $3.8bn a year
from the US – up from the $3.1bn Washington
currently gives Israel annually under a 10-year
deal that ends in 2018.
The agreement was described as the “single
largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US
history”, but it also involves major concessions by
the Israeli government, which will no longer be
able to seek additional annual funds from the US
Congress over and above the new package.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from
Washington DC, said the annual $3.8bn figure did
not mark a big change “compared with what Israel
was getting in 2015 or 2016”.
“It sounds like a bit of a difference, but then if you
look at the money that the US Congress routinely
gives Israel on top of that $3.1bn, it’s really not
that much more,” Culhane said.
“In 2015, the US Congress gave Israel $620m for
missile defence, so basically Israel is going to get
the same amount as it’s been getting.”
The figure also is significantly lower compared with
the $4.5bn – $5bn sums that Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu said he was seeking when he
first entered the negotiations, according to
Culhane.

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