Small cut in US grants – but big problems still loom

It will take creative financing to enable Israel, or specifically in my area of interest, the Israeli air force to gain its full budgetary wish list.

Last week, Washington announced it will cut 5% ($175 million) from its annual military aid package to Israel as part of across-the-board budgetary spending cuts. US military aid to Israel is currently set at $3.1 billion per year.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had instructed Israeli officials in Washington DC not to ask the US government for any waivers.

In Washington, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren said: “Israel did not seek an exception. We are willing to share in the burden.”

In Jerusalem, officials were relieved because they expected a much deeper cut.

The cut is not “catastrophic”, say sources, but Israel was hoping for extra money from the USA.

The Israeli air force wish list includes a second squadron of F-35s, on top of the 19 included in the first contract, plus the Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor and Boeing KC-135 air tanker.

However, this is only the best known part of the list. One other wish that has been put aside in recent years is the one submitted by the Israeli navy. It was defined as urgent then – now it looks urgent even to an outsider.

The navy has a new mega mission – to protect the huge undersea gas reservoirs discovered under the Mediterranean off the Israeli shore. Gas is already flowing, making the infrastructure a strategic target for terrorists.

Therefore, the US cut in aid may not be big in definite numbers, but it puts a new focus on the wish lists of all branches of the Israel Defense Forces.

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2 Responses to Small cut in US grants – but big problems still loom

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