As Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu prepares to meet with President Barack Obama for the first time in over a year, a New York Times editorial on Friday warned that it would be difficult for Obama to justify an increase in military aid to Israel, as Jerusalem is reportedly requesting.
Obama and Netanyahu will meet in the White House on Monday for the first time since the US led world powers to a deal with Iran over its nuclear program — a deal which Netanyahu vehemently opposes and which he fought furiously to thwart, greatly straining ties between the two allies in the process.
Now, with the accord finalized, Israel and the US are searching for ways to mend fractured relations. One step being considered is an upgraded US military aid package to the Jewish state.
On Wednesday congressional sources told Reuters that Israel was asking for $5 billion in annual defense aid for a decade, a significant increase from the current $3 billion a year. The sources estimated that the White House and Israel would ultimately agree on a sum between $4 billion and $5 billion.
White House officials told the New York Times they did not expect a final deal on defense aid to emerge from the two leaders’ meeting on Monday. And the paper noted in its editorial that, with Congress struggling to rein in federal spending, it would be difficult for the White House to rationalize a large boost to its assistance to Israel.
“It is hard to see how such a large increase could be justified, especially when Congress is trying to keep a lid on federal spending and is cutting back many vital programs. And Israel has long been a leading recipient of American assistance,” opined the Times.
The paper further asserted that whatever deal the administrations eventually agree upon, it must be contingent on Netanyahu’s future cooperation over matters of mutual interest.
Read more at Times of Israel.