US agrees to bolster security aid if Israel forgoes annual plus-ups

Within the framework of talks on a new 10-year memorandum of understanding on security assistance, the U.S. government is demanding that Israel agree to refrain from lobbying Congress for further increases in aid after the memorandum is signed, diplomatic officials involved in the matter said.

Under the current memorandum of understanding, which is set to expire in 2017, Israel receives around $3.1 billion annually in security aid from the U.S.

As part of the ongoing talks on a new memorandum of understanding, the U.S. recently agreed to add around $800 million in missile defense funding, bringing the annual total in security aid to nearly $4 billion. Israel is seeking an annual total of around $4.5 billion over the next decade.

U.S. President Barack Obama has agreed to push the implementation of the new memorandum of understanding up to 2017 from 2018 once a deal is reached.

During the talks, IDF representatives have presented U.S. officials with Israel’s military needs in light of the Iran nuclear agreement and ongoing developments in the Middle East.

According to the U.S. website Defense News, the Obama administration will condition the new memorandum of understanding on Israel agreeing “to forgo annual plus-ups to the president’s budget from Congress except for extreme emergency cases.”

“In recent years, congressional plus-ups for Israeli aid have exceeded the president’s budget request by much more than 100%,” a Defense News report said. “U.S. sources calculated that since the start of the current 10-year agreement in fiscal year 2009, congressional plus-ups to Israel exceeded Pentagon budget requests by some $1.9 billion.”

Israeli diplomatic officials said Israel does not want to commit to not seeking annual plus-ups, due to regional instability which precludes the ability to fully foresee future needs.

Israeli officials have declined to officially comment on the ongoing security aid talks with the Americans. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro recently said he believed a deal would be reached in the near future.