WASHINGTON (UPI) — President Barack Obama‘s administration pledged the United States’ largest-ever military aid package to Israel on Wednesday — nearly $40 billion over 10 years.
The U.S. government signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday. While the United States has long been a key ally to Israel, the new deal is the largest investment the country has ever made in the Middle Eastern nation’s security.
“Today, we’re making another unprecedented commitment to the security of Israel and the Israeli people,” National Security Adviser and ambassador Susan Rice said in a statement. “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.”
Obama touted the pledge as proof that the United States is Israel’s greatest “friend.”
“For as long as the state of Israel has existed, the United States has been Israel’s greatest friend and partner, a fact underscored again today,” he said. “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.”
According to the memorandum, Israel will receive nearly $4 billion per year for the next decade.
Administration officials said $33 billion will be spent for foreign military financing and $5 billion for missile defense, a commitment Rice called “unprecedented.”
“This is the single largest pledge of military assistance — to any country — in American history,” she said.
The financial pledge reaffirms American support of Israel despite some recent public spats between the allies over various issues, like last year’s landmark nuclear agreement with Iran — which drew staunch opposition from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The U.S. is sending a message to the region that despite all the differences between us and Israel over last few years, none of Israel’s adversaries have a patron willing to commit as much money to their defense as the United States is committing to Israel,”The Washington Institute analyst David Makovsky told USA Today.
Some federal lawmakers aren’t 100 percent behind the move, for the same reason they opposed the Iran pact — a lack of congressional involvement.
“Congress is not a party to this agreement nor is this agreement binding on future congresses,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a statement. “Congress has an independent duty to make a decision about the proper level of support for Israel or our other allies. To suggest this MOU will bind future presidents and congresses for the next decade is constitutionally flawed and impractical.”