83 US Senators have signed a letter today demanding that President Obama quickly reach a new military aid deal with Israel, and one that is worth considerably more than the $3 billion annually that Israel is already receiving. The letter claimed Israel needs more money to “defend itself.”
The demand seems particularly ill-timed, however, as just a week ago Israeli officials confirmed that President Obama had offered a $40 billion proposal to cover the next 10 years, but that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to accept it because it sought a pledge not to lobby Congress for more money over that 10 year period.
The Obama Administration had also reportedly offered an alternative, $34 billion deal, which would allow Netanyahu to keep lobbying Congress for annual hikes in funding, though Netanyahu was said not to have liked this offer any better.
There is a major split in Israel over the matter, with some in Netanyahu’s government believing that they could get more money by waiting for 2017 and Obama’s successor. Some Israeli officials, however, fear that spurning Obama’s offer risks a deeper divide between Israel’s far-right government and the Democratic Party in the US, particularly if Netanyahu rejects Obama’s deal and takes one from a Republican.