The United States is poised to increase its annual military assistance to Israel amid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fears over nuclear diplomacy with Iran, according to reports.
With the current $3 billion annual military aid package set to expire in 2017, US and Israeli officials are discussing a new 10-year deal that could be worth up to $45 billion.
A US official said on condition of anonymity that the new agreement could bring US military aid up to $3.7 billion a year.
During a briefing with reporters on Thursday, Netanyahu refused to say how much Israel was requesting from the United States.
However, he said the increased military assistance was not a “quid pro quo” for a possible nuclear deal with Iran, which Israel strongly opposes.
“There is no trade-off requiring I agree to this [nuclear] deal with Iran. The deal is bad and we will continue to oppose it,” Netanyahu said, according to Israeli media.
Alistair Baskey, a White House National Security Council spokesman, acknowledged Thursday that US and Israeli officials were expected to discuss ways in which “long-term security cooperation between the two countries can be further strengthened.”
But, he said “no such detailed discussions at a senior level have occurred recently.”
The administration of former US president George W. Bush signed an agreement with Israel in 2007, providing it with $30 billion in military assistance over 10 years. Most of that money must be spent on American military products.
The money is separate from the nearly $500 million in annual US funding for Israel’s missile system programs in recent years.
Netanyahu made a speech before a joint session of Congress on March 3, warning US lawmakers that the White House was negotiating “a very bad deal” with Iran.
Representatives of Iran and the P5+1—the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, began their latest round of talks on drafting the text of a final nuclear deal in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Wednesday.