An unnamed senior US official familiar with the situation has told Reuters that significant progress has been made in three days of closed door meetings between Israel’s acting National Security Council head and US national security adviser Susan Rice.
The talks centered around the still unsettled question of a new 10-year military aid deal to Israel, which US officials have vowed will be the largest military aid package to anyone, ever, but which the Obama Administration has struggled to get Israel to accept. Certain subjects of dispute appear to have been settled.
The current pact, a 10-year, $30 billion pact, will expire in 2018, and President Obama wants to get another one in place before his term ends in January. The $37 billion offer, however, has been so far spurned by Israel, which has objected to Obama’s limits, designed to ensure that the overwhelming majority of the money is given to US military contractors, and not Israeli companies.
Some in Israel’s government believe that they can get more money simply by waiting out Obama and negotiating with his successor, and indeed, Republican candidate Donald Trump’s adviser has openly urged Israel not to deal with Obama, on the notion they’d get more out of Trump.
There has been concern, however, that Israel spurning Obama’s offer would further politicize Israeli aid within the US, and while the administration seems to be eager to sell Israel on a pact, they’re so far not willing to drive the price up to well in excess of $40 billion to do so.