The US will cut five percent, or $175 million, from its annual military aid package to Israel as part of across-the-board budgetary spending cuts, a Hebrew daily reported Friday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had instructed Israeli officials in Washington, DC, to not ask the US government for an exception from the fiscal measures, according to Maariv. US military aid to Israel is currently set at $3.1 billion per year.
Speaking in DC, Ambassador Michael Oren said Thursday, “Israel did not seek an exception. We are willing to share in the burden.”
In Jerusalem, officials who were expecting larger cuts in aid, to the tune of half a billion dollars, breathed a sigh of relief.
The planned cuts will likely affect Israel’s ability to purchase advanced F-35 stealth fighters, according to the report, 19 of which were supposed to be delivered by the US in 2016. Because of budgetary cuts in Washington, the Pentagon has slashed production of the F-35s, from 2,500 to 1,200 planes, thereby making each fighter more expensive.
The cuts are expected to affect future joint military exercises between the two countries, and funds for joint missile defense development programs — except for Iron Dome — will be cut, reported Maariv.
News of the planned cuts comes as Israel faces a rising threat from the two-year-old Syrian civil war, with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian proxy Hezbollah threatening to open a new front on the Golan Heights.