Former Israeli official: $38 billion arms deal good for Israel’s long-term planning


( The new 10-year $38 billion Israeli security deal with the U.S. enables Israel to budget for long-term defense plans and prepare for a future after the nuclear deal with Iran ends, said Israeli Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror in a press call Thursday hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).

Israeli Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. 

The agreement, known as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), has been criticized by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition and from the political right in the U.S., in part due to the removal of an arrangement included in the previous MOU allowing Israel to spend up to 25 percent of the aid money on its own defense industry. Instead, Israel will have to spend all the money on American arms manufacturers.

The agreement allows Israel “to make plans and to implement them based on a known amount of money,” to “defend itself by itself” in a volatile Middle East, and to prepare to destroy any attempt by Iran to get nuclear capabilities, said Amidror, a distinguished fellow at JINSA's Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy. He is also a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a former national security advisor to Netanyahu.

The agreement covers fiscal year 2019 to 2028 and stands at $38 billion or $3.8 billion per year. Beyond the numbers, however, “the political significance of this agreement” is that it shows that the U.S. supports Israel in spite of strained relations between Netanyahu and Obama in recent years, Amidror explained.

“It’s ok for democracies” to have criticism, Amidror said, “it should be that way.” Despite the new condition, he believes it was best Israel and the U.S. agreed on the new MOU before the November presidential election, instead of Israel waiting for a new administration to familiarize itself with all the issues in 2017.

More importantly, the new MOU shows that U.S. “separates the issues,” and doesn’t allow disagreements to stand in the way of defense collaboration with the Jewish state, Amidror said.  

Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, while the Israeli government does not “like the situation,” it understands the “American logic” behind the deal. The MOU allows Israel enough time and money to prepare itself for a future during and after the deal.

This is “a huge achievement for both the White House and the Prime Minister’s office,” Amidror said. 

Posted on September 22, 2016 .