GIVING ISRAEL THE MIDDLE FINGER: Obama backtracks on Israel defense package to counter Iran nuclear deal
US President Barack Obama has retracted on his pledge of an extra defense package to compensate Israel for the damage caused its security by the nuclear deal concluded with Iran last year. This flat refusal, reported here by DEBKAfile’s Washington sources, confronted Israeli officials when they met last week with heads of the National Security Council at the White House.
Asked to define its new requirements, Israel asked the administration for an additional $1.9 billion, which would have upped the total to $5 billion per annum for the next five years. The officials explained that Israel’s defense bill had been inflated substantially by the new perils looming from the current Middle East wars, and the windfall Iran had gained from the lifting of sanctions for its advanced ballistic missiles programs and for enhancing its allies’ aggressive capacity, especially that of Hizballah.
Israel is now beset additionally by adverse Russian military operations in southern Syria and looming ISIS threats on multiple fronts, at a time that the Arab states are stuffing their armories with advanced weapons from Russia and China.
The US officials explained that, because of cutbacks in US defense spending, it would not be possible to add a single dollar to Israel’s regular $3.1 billion appropriation. After notifying Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon of this refusal, the Israeli delegation was advised to reduce its application to $900 million. This too was refused.
The standing $3.1 billion annual US assistance program for Israel expires at the end of 2016. The negotiations taking place currently were to have covered its extension for ten years. That too is in doubt.
In his report to the cabinet meeting Sunday, Jan. 7, the prime minister said that if Israel’s security needs were not met, he would not sign a deal and would prefer to wait for the next US president to take office in January 2017.
Although Netanyahu did not say so explicitly, this issue will no doubt play into the election campaign for the next American president. The prime minister hopes that the leading candidates, whether Democrats or Republicans, will be more forthcoming about Israel’s defense needs.
US officials reacted angrily to Netanyahu’s comment, warning that the US budgetary situation would not improve and that Israel would not find a president more committed to its security than
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