Ten-Year Military Deal May Be Post-Obama

YERUSHALAYIM -

The next ten-year military assistance package may not be concluded until after U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday.

The Memorandum of Understanding has been the subject of high-level negotiations for months, but the issues involved are complex, detailed, and take time, Netanyahu explained.

The statement marked a shift in expectations, after Netanyahu said at the World Economic Forum in Davos recently that it could be wrapped up “in the coming months,” suggesting that it would happen during the Obama presidency.

The current 10-year framework, which expires in 2017, provided Israel with about $3 billion annually. To compensate for expanded security threats in the wake of the Iran deal, Israel is reportedly seeking as much as $5 billion per year.

“In terms of protecting Israel, and by extension protecting our part of the region, the American assistance to Israel is about 3.1 billion dollars a year,” he said. “We’re talking about a bigger package.”

Although it sounds like a large sum, Netanyahu pointed out that it is far less than the billions of dollars Iran now has available for terror sponsorship as a result of sanctions relief.

“It’s a sign of how strong the American-Israeli alliance is. You know? We can have our disagreements. We do. They’re always publicized, they’re very dramatic. But the alliance between the United States and Israel is so strong and so powerful that the only thing that’s collapsed is the talk of the imminent American-Israeli collapse. It’s very clear that’s not going to happen and that this partnership is rock-solid and will remain so,” Netanyahu added.