Israel and US sign historic military aid package deal
Israel and the US signed the terms of a new $38 billion aid package for Israel during a State Department ceremony on Wednesday.
The agreement, which will go into effect upon the expiration of the current package in 2018, will last for 10 years. The deal is the largest ever delivered by the US to any country in its history.
The ceremony opened with a speech by the US National Security Advisor Amb. Dr. Susan Rice. “I am delighted to join you as we reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel,” Rice said.
“For as long as Israel has existed, the US has been Israel’s greatest friend and partner. That iron-clad bond has endured ‘Dor l’dor,’” Hebrew for ‘from generation to generation.’
Rice also expressed her concern for Shimon Peres, who is fighting for his life after suffering a stroke on Tuesday evening. “We are all praying for an extraordinary leader…President Shimon Peres—Israel’s national treasure,” she said. “Our thoughts are with (him) and his family today.”
The deal marks a significant increase over our existing funding and it will ensure that Israel has the support it need to defend itself by itself and to preserve it qualitative military edge, Rice proclaimed. The MOU was a reminder, added, “of the United States’ unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.”
Speaking after Rice, National Security Council Acting Chairman Yaakov Nagal thanked all those involved, particularly President Barack Obama. He emphasized that the deal reflected the depth of the US-Israel relationship.
“Israel has no better friend, no more reliable strategic ally, no more important partner than the United States of America,” he said. “Everyone can see and feel the special relationship between our countries and our people.”
“This unprecedented assistance will also cover the robust missile defense funding for the first time…A strong Israel is an island of stability in the stormy Middle East,” Nagal continued.
“We believe that this assistance is not only a critical investment in Israel’s security but also an investment in regional stability and…for the United States and its citizens,” he added.
Following the ceremony, President Obama said that the aid will “make a significant contribution to Israel’s security in what remains a dangerous neighborhood.” He also stated his intention to press for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite “deeply troubling trends on the ground that undermine this goal.”
Ahead of the signing ceremony, leader of the Kulanu party and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon praised the agreement: “Israeli civilians must be grateful to the American government for the largest ever military assistance deal signed between Israel and its most important ally, the United States,” said Kahlon.
“This agreement is yet another expression of the depth of the strategic relationship between the two countries. The defense budget is large enough in order to continue to support Israeli security research and development and local procurement so that our technological superiority can continue which is also based on local production.”
US Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential candidate, also released a statement expressing his support for the deal, a statement which was emblematic of the bipartisan support to which Nagal referred.
“After regular engagement with the Administration and Israeli government on this issue, I am pleased that an agreement has been reached to provide Israel with an unprecedented level of US military assistance in a consistent manner over the next decade,” the statement read.
“The United States maintains an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, its people and its future, and this deal is a tangible sign of our support to our strongest regional ally.”