US officials at the state department have announced a landmark $38-billion-dollar military aid package to Israel, the largest pledge of military assistance in US history according to the congress and administration. America will deliver weapons systems to Israel over a period of 10 years, which will include F-35 and F-15 tactical fighters, by 2018. The agreement, which took months to finalise after talks behind closed doors, comprises of foreign military funds, missile defence systems, weapons systems, fighter aircraft, military strengthening and mobility enhancement.
The funds will primarily be used to upgrade Israel’s fighter aircraft fleet, along with new F-35s from Lockheed Martin and F-15s from Boeing. The US is still strongly committed to Israel’s long-term security despite differences between them regarding the US-led nuclear deal with Iran and the policy with Palestinians. Israel has in fact requested more F-15 squadrons following the US decision to lift sanctions against Iran, saying that the move would allow Iran to exercise their military muscle in the region unheeded. This only deepens Israel’s concerns about regional unrest in Syria and Iraq.
High-ranking diplomats in the US have said that this agreement will help Israel address instability in the region, secure borders and protect citizens in what has been deemed as a dangerous neighbourhood. The deal has been approved for the sale of around 75 F-35’s to Israel and there have been talks of purchasing the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B following intense negotiations between the two nations. The US is keen on protecting Israel from the present political turmoil in the region. They have jointly developed or at least financed all three tiers of Israel’s defence program in regards to their short, medium and long-range missile interceptor range.
This new pact allows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu to avoid uncertainties surrounding the next US President, and the ability to plan ahead, there still is an iron-willed commitment to Israel’s security despite policy differences that exist between the two nations. The US remains clear about its rock solid commitment to the welfare of Israeli citizens and the future of the Jewish state of Israel.
The White House has released a statement saying the deal will consist of a foreign military and missile defence financing, and the elimination of special arrangements that will allow Israel to use this funding for their own defence by purchasing weapons made in America. The funds will also be used for buying military fuels. Israel will look to maintain a military advantage in this hostile region and both sides have agreed not to seek additional funds over the following years unless a situation such as war breaks out.
The agreement does not signal an end to tensions rather, it may lay the groundwork for a possible peace treaty between Israel and Palestine. President Obama’s advisers have argued that this may break the gridlock in the volatile region and mark steps towards peace. On the other hand, Israeli critics have said this is nothing more than a US subsidy to operations that they were opposed to from the beginning.
The US looks at Israel as a beacon of stability surrounded by a region of turmoil, an ally in non-nuclear security and a force to curb Islamic terror groups. In a symbiotic relationship, the US will have access to missile defence technologies that Israel develops with US funding. These technologies can be deployed by US forces operating globally to maintain security in trouble zones.
In light of Iran increased boldness after US nuclear-related sanctions were ceased, the aid package comes at the right time for Israel to maintain their military edge over potential threats in the region. The Obama administration is eager to see how this all folds out and have locked this agreement to help bolster their presidential legacy and disprove any criticism that his office has insufficiently supported the state of Israel.