US tells Israel the current security aid package is the best it’ll get

Senior US officials on Sunday responded to comments attributed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding negotiations over the U.S.’s military aid to Israel.

Netanyahu, who allegedly made the comments during Sunday morning’s weekly cabinet meeting, indicated that should Israel not deem the military aid package the two sides are currently negotiating on sufficient, he will wait until the next US president is sworn in to continue talks.

The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Americans are prepared to sign the biggest military aid package to any country in the US’s history, despite their challenging budgetary environment.

They added that while Israel is of course at liberty to wait until the next US administration comes into power to complete the memorandum of understanding for the aid package, the US’s budgetary situation is unlikely to improve over the next one to two years.

Furthermore, they added, the Israelis will not come across a president more committed to their security than Barack Obama.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to confirm or deny to i24news the statements attributed to Netanyahu: “We do not comment on remarks made behind closed doors. The negotiations are underway and we hope to conclude them with mutual understandings.”

Negotiations over the US’s aid package to Israel have been a source of ongoing tension over the last few months. Netanyahu suspended the talks in 2015 in protest at the Iran nuclear deal and when they recommenced, the two sides were immediately at odds over the package’s total value.

The US refused the prime minister’s request for aid to the value of $5 billion, a disagreement which has been extensively reported on.

The US officials further noted that the restrictive budgetary environment meant that the administration had to balance its own security finances with those of its allies. According to them, Israel receives 50 percent of the US government’s total military aid to other countries.

They added that the aid package had been put together on the basis of wide-ranging advice from Israel and that they were confident it would meet Israel’s security needs.

The current security memorandum of understanding between the US and Israel, signed in 2007, is due to expire at the end of 2018. That agreement provided Israel with security aid totaling $30 billion over 10 years. The new memorandum of understanding is also set to cover a 10-year period.