By Safvan Allahverdi
WASHINGTON (AA) – A 2016 military aid package between the U.S. and Israel has gone into force, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.
The deal, signed under the Obama administration, will provide Israel $38 billion in U.S. military financing from 2019 to 2028.
“As we enter the new fiscal year, the 10-year period of the $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the United States and Israel in 2016 begins,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a written statement.
“Under the terms of the MOU, the United States will set funding for Israel at levels of $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defense over each of the next 10 years.”
The implementation of the MOU reflects “the enduring and unshakable commitment of the President, this Administration, and the American people to Israel's security,” she said.
Mentioning escalating regional threats, she said terrorist groups sponsored first and foremost by Iran are seeking to attack not only Israel but also American interests.
“Israel is also threatened by the reckless proliferation of destabilizing weapons systems into the region that increase the possibility of an escalated conflict in an already dangerous and volatile theater.”
“The United States unconditionally affirms Israel's right to self-defense, and this MOU is a concrete demonstration of our commitment to Israel's capacity to defend itself with a qualitative military edge over all potential regional adversaries,” she added.
– Palestinian agency cut off
As more U.S. military aid heads to Israel, the U.S. recently stopped funding the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees.
Turkey has blasted the decision, saying last month: "The decision of the United States will affect the lives of over 5 million Palestinians in a negative way.
The U.S. was once the UNRWA's largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million annually — about a quarter of its overall budget.
Established in 1949, the UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.