Israel will soon get the most impressive military aid package ever granted by the United States to another country. This was announced two days ago by the American ambassador in Tel Aviv, Dan Shapiro, at the opening of the annual counter terrorism meeting of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. Most probably, the signing of the memorandum of understanding will happen in the coming weeks.
The U.S. diplomat has confirmed what the National Security Adviser Susan Rice had anticipated in recent months. On the one hand, the increase of the Israeli military aid package will not be particularly significant — it will go from $3 billion to $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion — but on the other hand, this essential support will be guaranteed until 2029, allowing Israel to maintain its military superiority in a region that encompasses the central and eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and parts of central Asia. Thus, it ensures the aid will continue for another 12-13 years. In this long period, Israel will buy the most powerful new American weapons from U.S. corporations, using the money received from the United States.
Throughout the eight years of the Obama administration, several moments of tension between the U.S. and the right-wing Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu have been reported and analyzed by the media and experts. The most sensational occurrence happened a year and a half ago, when the Israeli prime minister launched a heavy accusation against Obama before the U.S. Congress. He “accused” him of rejecting the idea of a military attack against Iran and choosing to go forward with an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program instead, one of the few successes of international diplomacy in recent years.
Barack Obama, despite attacks from Netanyahu and promises of partial changes to the U.S. foreign policy he had made at the beginning of his first term, will go down in history as the American president who has tightened even further the strategic alliance with the State of Israel and is now preparing to hand out the most generous package of U.S. military aid ever.
The same applies to Saudi Arabia. In recent years, the relationship between Washington and Riyadh has gone through difficult moments. Wide differences have emerged on key issues, such as Iran and Syria. But no other American president had ever sold so many weapons to the Saudis — up to $110 billion — as Obama did.
And again, thanks to the president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, today the Arab country that receives the most significant package of U.S. military aid is Jordan — $1.2 billion a year — after the agreement signed last year. Amman has surpassed Egypt, which for more than 30 years had been the prime destination in the Arab world for U.S. military aid. And the support Washington has been providing to Lebanon for some time, has grown progressively, now including weapons, vehicles and equipment.
The disturbing international reports on violations of human and political rights in Saudi Arabia and Jordan have not slowed down the U.S. president. Recently, the Hashemite authorities approved laws restricting freedom of the press and of speech, including controls on social media, and have imposed severe restrictions on international funding to Jordanian NGOs. Obama has remained largely silent even in the face of laws passed by the Israeli Knesset, which target not only Palestinians in the occupied territories, but also the activities of those Israeli NGOs not aligned with government policy.
In these few days before the Washington and Tel Aviv sign the aid deal, the U.S. administration is trying to shave a little of the annual funding guaranteed until 2029. The Washington Post writes that the White House is delaying the signing in the hope of convincing Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is leading the battle in Congress to increase military aid to Israel, to lower his demand from $3.4 billion to $3.1 billion. Graham was quoted in the newspaper saying that would never happen. “I said, ‘Tell the administration to go F themselves,'” he said.
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