President Obama and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu struck a hawkish tone in their high-profile White House meeting today, talking up massive increases in military aid for Israel while Obama praised Israel’s government for its use of “self-defense” in the ongoing crackdown against Palestinian unrest.
Long-standing disputes between Netanyahu and Obama seemed to be all but forgotten today, with Obama seemingly ready to endorse anything and everything Israel’s far-right government is doing, a fact which led Netanyahu to term it “one of the best” meetings they’d ever had.
While most of the public narrative between the two was the usual self-congratulatory comments about the inherent greatness of the US-Israeli relationship, the nuts and bolts of the talk appear to have centered on the increase in military aid, one which both sides agreed to expedite.
A 10-year, $30 billion military aid package signed under the Bush Administration is set to expire soon, and Obama made clear a new decade-long package was a “top priority,” with experts saying the talks are expected to put in place a package worth “substantially more” than the expiring one.
Israeli officials have made no secret their intention to get a massive increase above the previous deal, with the most recent talks late last week suggesting Netanyahu was looking for at least $50 billion over the next 10 years. US officials had previously suggested the deal would be in the $36-$37 billion range.
In addition to the new decade-long package, the US and Israel are also negotiating a one-off deal as “reparations” for Israel’s objections to the Iran nuclear deal, a package which itself is expected to be worth several billion dollars.