Jerusalem (TPS) – The United States and Israel signed what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to as an “unprecedented” memorandum of understanding (MOU) Wednesday. The agreement calls for a US foreign aid package of $3.8 billion annually for ten years, adding up to $38 billion altogether.
The current ten-year, $30 billion MOU will expire next year.
“The agreement will help us to continue to build our armed forces and to continue to improve our anti-missile defense, and this is of course a very significant achievement for Israel, and all the citizens of Israel can feel happy about it,” said Netanyahu.
“This agreement demonstrates the simple truth that the US-Israel relationship is strong and powerful,” Netanyahu continued. “Many in the US understand that investing in Israel’s security strengthens stability in the unstable Middle East, and that it serves not only our security interests but also the security interests of the United States.”
Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, also praised the agreement, telling TPS that the deal “projects a commitment on the part of the whole American political system which is crucial.”
“It is important from an Israeli point of view because it reflects a deep bipartisan US commitment to the security of Israel despite the tensions between the two governments on the Iranian issue,” Inbar added.
Both men acknowledged a history of friction between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, but they said that the disagreements had no bearing on US-Israel relations.
“[Our disagreements] are familial disputes,” said Netanyahu. “They have no effect whatsoever on the great friendship between Israel and the US, a friendship expressed in this agreement that will very much help to continue fortifying the strength of Israel over the next decade.”
The agreement will allow Israel to procure weaponry like the F-35 stealth fighter jet, but the deal also comes at a price for Israel. For many years, Israel has spent approximately one-quarter of its US foreign aid to purchase Israeli weapons. Israel has agreed to phase out this arrangement over the timespan of the new agreement; eventually the entire aid package will be spent on US weapons exclusively.
The deal was also somewhat of a blow to Netanyahu, who initially sought $5 billion annually in US aid to offset emerging regional threats and to maintain Israel’s “qualitative edge” in the region. Nevertheless, Netanyahu expressed his sincere gratitude to President Obama and the US at large.
“I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement,” said Netanyahu. “I would also like to thank our many friends in the US Congress and the American people for their tremendous support that is bipartisan and encompasses the length and width of the United States.”