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Netanyahu thanks Obama for ‘historic’ military aid deal

PM says $38 billion package ‘will ensure an unprecedented level of defense aid for Israel in the next decade,’ will also help US security

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama embrace at a ceremony welcoming the US leader at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 20, 2013 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama embrace at a ceremony welcoming the US leader at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 20, 2013 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday thanked the United States for the “unprecedented” and “historic” defense aid package, hours before Israeli and US officials were to sign the $38 billion deal in Washington.

“This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of defense aid for Israel in the next decade,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “This is the largest military aid package the US has ever given out to any nation.”

“The agreement will help us continue building our armed forces, improve our missile defense systems,” he added. “I want to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement.”

The prime minister argued that the defense aid, known as the memorandum of understanding, would also serve US security interests.

“Many in the US understand that investing in Israel’s security stabilizes the Middle East, which not only serves in our security interests, but the security interests of the US as well.”

Netanyahu acknowledged the recent diplomatic disputes between Jerusalem and Washington, but said they “had no effect whatsoever on the great friendship between Israel and the US.”

“These are disputes you have between family,” Netanyahu said. “This agreement demonstrates the simple truth that the relationship between Israel and the US is strong and powerful.”

On Tuesday, Jerusalem and Washington finalized the 10-year defense deal in what the State Department called the “single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US history.”

The new aid package will see Israel receive $3.8 billion annually — up from $3 billion — starting in 2019 and through 2028.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Wednesday welcomed the agreement, and thanked his US counterpart Samantha Power for her role in “further strengthening the close ties between our countries and our peoples.”

In a statement released ahead of the signing, Danon said the Jewish state “has no greater, nor more important, ally than the United States of America.”

The acting head of Israel’s National Security Council, Yaakov Nagel, was in Washington to sign the agreement on behalf of Israel at the State Department later on Wednesday.

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