Netanyahu: American aid deal will be concluded within weeks

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he hopes to close ongoing talks and reach a deal with the United States concerning long-term military aid to Israel in the coming weeks, Haaretz reported.


Addressing Knesset members during the local version of Question Time, the prime minister said that “I hope that within a few weeks, we will close the agreement on defense aid with the United States.”


Netanyahu’s assessment was more optimistic than that of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who earlier on Monday, speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said he believes that Israel and the United States will wrap up negotiations on long-term future American military aid by Rosh Hashanah, which this year begins on October 2.


Liberman’s comments were reported to Haaretz by two Knesset members who attended the meeting but asked not to be identified.


The Knesset members noted that Liberman made the comments twice in the course of the committee session, and that he also said that both Israel and the United States have the interest and the desire to sign the military assistance agreement while President Barack Obama, who finishes his term on January 20 of next year, is still in office.


Liberman also noted that there is still disagreement between the two countries regarding various provisions but he said he believes they will be resolved within the next two months, according to Haaretz.


The primary disagreement, he said, relates to the Americans’ demand to modify the agreement now in force that permits the Israeli Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces to spend close to 40 percent of annual U.S. aid on the purchase of equipment from Israeli defense industries and for fuel. The Americans contend that the current agreement no longer serves the interests of the two countries, claiming that it makes improper and inefficient use of the financial assistance.


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