On top of $700 million more annually, Jerusalem said to seek separate funding for surface-to-air programs

A test of the David's Sling missile defense system (Defense Ministry)
A test of the David’s Sling missile defense system (Defense Ministry)


Negotiations over a new US security aid package to Israel have hit a snag, and the two sides are in disagreement not only over the size of the annual increase but also over a request from the Jewish state that a separate sub-package for missile defense be enshrined in the deal, Reuters reported Tuesday.

US and Israeli officials have been trying to hammer out a memorandum of understanding that would increase US military aid to Israel for the next 10 years, due to be renewed before 2018.

The current aid package stands at $3 billion annually, and Israel has demanded that the amount for the next 10-year deal be raised to $3.7 billion.

In addition to the extra $700 million per year, Israel, according to the report, is also asking tThe David's Sling Stunner missile on display, January 4, 2012 (Herzl Shapira/Flash90)hat the memorandum include a separate deal for missile defense spending, which could raise the total amount to more than $4 billion annually.

It would be the first time missile defense was addressed in a separate subsection of the memorandum. The US Congress in the past has provided the Jewish state with extra missile defense spending on a provisional basis of up to $600 million in recent years.

US officials were quoted in the report as saying the new package could include $3.5 to $3.7 billion annually, but it seemed the area of dispute between the two sides was whether that sum included the extra missile defense allocation.

After four conflicts in the past 10 years that saw the Lebanon-based Hezbollah and the Gaza-based Hamas terror groups fire thousands of missiles and rockets into Israeli cities, Israel’s missile defense has remained a bulwark of joint US-Israeli military cooperation.

Furthermore, Israel and the US have jointly developed the costly David’s Sling missile defense system, which Israel sees as increasingly important in the face of Iran’s military growth following the 2015 nuclear accord.

Another area of dispute, the report said, is the US’s intention to ensure all the aid funds are spent on its military products, while in the current memorandum, Israel can spend 26.3 percent of the package within domestic defense companies.

The report also said the US wants to remove a clause in the memorandum that allows Israel to spend $400 million a year in “military fuels.”

More than 80 of the 100 sitting US senators have signed a letter calling on President Barack Obama to increase foreign aid to Israel and immediately sign an agreement on a new package.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted he may wait to negotiate with Obama’s successor to try and secure a better deal.

During a visit to Israel last month, US Vice President Joe Biden reportedly warned Netanyahu that the aid package will be less than what Jerusalem seeks, but offered reassurances the amount would reflect the security needs of the country.

During Biden’s meeting with Netanyahu, described by an Israeli official as “friendly, cordial and warm,” the vice president urged the prime minister to accept the offer, assuring him the agreement could always be amended at a later date.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with United States Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on March 9, 2016, during Biden's official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. (Amit Shabi/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with United States Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on March 9, 2016, during Biden’s official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. (Amit Shabi/POOL)

“In the past we’ve known how to make adjustments to agreements after they’ve been signed,” he said, according to Channel 10, which cited senior Israeli officials.

In November, Israel was said to have completed its “shopping list” of desired American military materiel, which reportedly included a request for V-22 Ospreys, planes believed capable of reaching Iran.

Israel also reportedly sought the V-22s from the US in 2012 when contemplating a strike on Iran’s Fordo enrichment facility, but later decided not to purchase due to budgetary restraints.

The US has either jointly developed or financed all three tiers in Israel’s missile defense program — Iron Dome (short-range missile interceptor), David’s Sling (medium range) and Arrow (long range).

As reported by The Times of Israel