Budget-strapped Israeli military banks on future US aid

JERUSALEM Fri May 9, 2014 6:20am EDT

Israeli soldiers take part in an honour guard ceremony for U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey (not seen) at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Nir Elias

Israeli soldiers take part in an honour guard ceremony for U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey (not seen) at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv October 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Nir Elias

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Budget-strapped Israel is pressing the United States to conclude a deal extending defense aid beyond 2017, when Washington's current $3 billion annual payouts to its Middle East ally expire, officials said on Friday.

They said a swift agreement on future U.S. grants would help Israel's military draft a five-year austerity plan accommodating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative government.

"It's difficult to budget into 2018 and 2019 without knowing what funds will be available," an Israeli defense official said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will visit Israel next week and the future aid will probably be raised by his hosts, according to a different official who declined to be identified by name or nationality.

The previous Republican administration signed a 10-year deal with Israel in 2007 granting it $30 billion, most of it going on American defense products.

U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, has sparred with Netanyahu over Iran's nuclear program and peacemaking with the Palestinians. But support for Israel's security remains strong in Washington - even as policymakers there slash spending on a range of U.S. military programs.

"Our two nations are forever bound by our shared history and our shared values, and every American dollar spent on Israel's security is an investment in protecting the many interests that our nations share," U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Friday, concluding three days of consultations in Israel.

Israel's Defense Ministry and the U.S. embassy in Israel declined comment on the aid negotiations, which are under way.

INCREASED FUNDING SOUGHT

A U.S. official briefed on the talks and who spoke on condition of anonymity said Israel was seeking an overall increase to between $3.2 billion and $3.5 billion a year, while the Obama administration had spoken of $2.8 billion.

The allies would probably settle on $3 billion "or thereabouts," the official predicted, adding that Israel "wants to get this worked out as soon as possible".

Israel's defense budget of around $14.5 billion has been challenged by Finance Ministry demands to cut $870 million. Netanyahu's security cabinet in December separately approved a $930 million boost to the defense budget, but the military says it needs more to contend with proliferating regional threats.

"We cannot bridge this budget rift," Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday. "There has been a mortal blow to training, to readiness and to fitness."

A senior Israeli military officer said the belt-tightening had put the brakes on David's Sling, a missile interceptor developed jointly with U.S. firm Raytheon Co. and which is being considered for purchase by Poland as it accelerates its defense preparations in response to the Ukraine-Russia standoff.

David's Sling could be operational in Israel in a year, the officer told reporters on Thursday - but only if more funds were found. "The moment you don't have the money, you pull back on the development and on getting the kit in the field," he said.

In addition to the annual defense grants, Washington has separately helped bankroll Iron Dome, a shorter-range Israeli rocket interceptor system already deployed. Rice put the amount of U.S. funds earmarked for Iron Dome at nearly $900 million.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (5)
From this article:

“Our two nations are forever bound by our shared history and our shared values, and every American dollar spent on Israel’s security is an investment in protecting the many interests that our nations share,” U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Friday, concluding three days of consultations in Israel.” (end quote)

Rice has zero credibility. Apartheid Israel shares values with the Old Confederacy, the CSA, not the USA today.

Israel is a Jewish theocracy, it never was and never will be a constitutional, secular, pluralistic, democratic republic, as the USA is.

In Israel, Jews are entitled to special privileges that non-Jewish Israelis and the stateless Palestinians living under Israeli occupation are denied.

What is good for the Jewish state in Palestine is not always good for the USA, in spite of what Ms. Rice claims.

As a black woman, Susan Rice should be ashamed of herself for claiming that Israel and the USA share core values… obviously Ms. Rice has no moral compass and will say whatever she is told to say.

Hope & Change was simply Shuck & Jive, suckers.

May 09, 2014 7:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
TBellchambers wrote:
“Our two nations are forever bound by our shared history and our shared values, and every American dollar spent on Israel’s security is an investment in protecting the many interests that our nations share,” U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Friday, concluding three days of consultations in Israel.

What absolute codswallop!
Israel does not seek peace rather it prefers the status quo whereby it continues to control the US congress, the White House and the President; the Gaza Strip with its 1.6 million inhabitants, the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley plus its international affiliated lobby cells not only in Washington and Brussels but also in Berlin, London and Paris.

May 09, 2014 7:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
TruthFair wrote:
Two stupid comments above reflected HAMAS and Iran’s islamofacist ideology

May 09, 2014 8:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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