Displaying an unprecedented commitment to the Jewish state, the United States has signed the biggest-ever aid deal in its history worth USD 38 billion (Rs 2.53 lakh crore) with Israel under which it will buy advanced planes and weaponry and boost the missile defense shield of Jerusalem.
The deal was signed at the US State Department by Israel’s acting National Security Advisor (NSA) Jacob Nagel and Thomas Shannon, US Under Secretary of State. US President Barack Obama's NSA Susan Rice was also present at the ceremony.
“America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable,” US President Barack Obama said in a statement after the two countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding.
“The new 10-year MoU on security (from fiscal year 2019 to 2028) assistance that his Administration signed with the Government of Israel is just the most recent reflection of my steadfast commitment to the security of the State of Israel,” Obama added.
The new deal will succeed the current $30 billion (over Rs 2.03 lakh crore) deal signed in 2007, which expires at the end of fiscal year 2018.
“This commitment to Israel’s security has been unwavering and is based on a genuine and abiding concern for the welfare of the Israeli people and the future of the State of Israel,” Obama further said.
Susan Rice said that by doing so the Obama Administration is making another ‘unprecedented commitment’ to the security of Israel and the Israeli people.
As per the MoU, the US commits to providing Israel USD 38 billion in military aid over ten years, including USD 33 billion (over Rs 2.20 lakh crore) in foreign military financing funds and an unprecedented commitment of USD 5 billion for missile defence.
“This marks a significant increase over our existing funding, and it will ensure that Israel has the support it needs to defend itself by itself and to preserve its qualitative military edge. This is the single largest pledge of military assistance-to any country-in American history,” Rice said.
Rice said it is a reminder of the US' unshakeable commitment to Israel's security. This additional funding will, among other things, allow Israel to update the lion's share of its fighter aircraft fleet, including the acquisition of additional F-35s and F-15s.
It will also enable Israel to substantially enhance the mobility of its ground forces, she added.
"As Israel continues to face the threat of rocket fire, this funding will help Israel to further strengthen missile defence systems like Iron Dome," she said.
For years, the US' funding for Israeli missile defence has been subject to the uncertainty of the annual appropriations process. Some years, the amount of missile defence funding has been unclear for months at a time. Some years, it has even declined, she said.
Advisor Jacob Nagel said the military assistance package that the US has generously agreed to provide Israel is not taken for granted and will help it shoulder the enormous defense burden that they face and enable better Israel - and enable Israel to better defend itself by itself against any threat.
"This unprecedented assistance will also cover a robust missile defence funding through the next decade for the first time and will help us effectively plan and develop multi-layer missile defense systems to counter the growing missile threats in our region," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the US aid package to his country as a ‘historic deal’.
"This agreement will ensure an unprecedented security assistance to Israel over the next decade," Netanyahu said in a Hebrew video address about an hour before the signing ceremony in Washington.
The new deal came after months of negotiations between the United States and Israel, which have been at odds over the Iran nuclear deal.
With Agency Inputs