Newly appointed Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in Washington Sunday to discuss “regional security challenges in the Middle East and areas of mutual defense cooperation.”
A new 10-year US military aid package to Israel is on the verge of completion after a year of stuttering, back-and-forth negotiations between the two countries, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Citing a senior Israeli official in Washington, the Post reports that Monday’s meeting between new Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his US counterpart Ashton Carter went well, and that Israel does not want to wait until President Barack Obama has left office, as had been previously reported.
Israel is hoping to secure an aid package worth $50 billion over 10 years. According to the Post, the new package will include US missile defense aid.
Lieberman and Carter at their meeting “reaffirmed the strength of the US-Israeli defense relationship and the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” according to a Pentagon press release.
The pair also discussed “regional security challenges in the Middle East and areas of mutual defense cooperation,” according to the statement.
The negotiations over US military aid to Israel have hit several stumbling blocks. Controversy erupted when Netanyahu allegedly indicated that should Israel not deem the military aid package the two sides are currently negotiating on sufficient, he will wait until the next US president is sworn in to continue talks.
In response to Netanyahu’s comments, which were reported in Haaretz and which the Prime Minister’s Office refused to confirm or deny, US officials said that the deal on offer was the best Israel could hope for.
Netanyahu also suspended the talks back in July 2015 over the Iran nuclear deal, although they recommenced last October.
The current security memorandum of understanding between the US and Israel, signed in 2007, is due to expire at the end of 2018. That agreement provided Israel with security aid totaling $30 billion over 10 years.
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