Netanyahu Rejects Fears Over Obama’s Letter Against Extra Aid to Israel

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu Rejects Fears Over Obama’s Letter Against Extra Aid to Israel

Written by Jonathan Benedek/TPS on June 15, 2016

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected assertions on Wednesday from opposition Knesset members that Netanyahu’s relationship with the Obama Administration was undermining Israel’s ability to receive renewed missile defense assistance from the US, following a letter written by the White House on Tuesday opposing a planned increase by the US Congress in aid to Israel.

“Attempts to turn the dialogue with the US into a tool for Israeli political gloating are unacceptable and any expressions of panic are out of place,” Netanyahu responded. “Not only will the security assistance for missile defense not be cut, it will be increased.”

Netanyahu was referring to continued efforts between the Obama Administration and Israel to come to terms on a renewed US foreign aid package to Israel.

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Israel has received approximately US$3.1 billion annually under the current memorandum of understanding between the US and Israel, which expires in 2018. The Obama Administration and Israel have yet to reach any agreement on an annual amount of foreign aid among other issues in a renewed memorandum of understanding.

The firestorm of criticism towards Netanyahu from distinguished Opposition MKs was sparked by a White House announcement yesterday that it would reject a proposal by the US House of Representatives to increase money earmarked for Israel’s missile defense by $455 million for fiscal year 2017.

“US aid is essential for protecting our citizens, and now, because of the prime minister’s ego games, we’re losing a critical part of it,” charged opposition leader Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Zionist Union faction.

“If Israel will remain without an air defense system in the next war, we can already begin setting up an inquiry into how Netanyahu makes national security decisions,” he added.

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) appeared to suggest that Israel’s security was undermined due to the absence of a good friendship with the Obama Administration.

“It hurts to see Israel’s security compromised because of a bad relationship with the American administration,” she said.

Current coalition MK and former ambassador to the US Michael Oren (Kulanu) dismissed concerns that Netanyahu’s relationship with US President Barack Obama would have negative repercussions for a renewed memorandum of understanding.

“Congress represents the will of the American people and it transcends the administration of this president or any other,” said MK Oren. “While we appreciate the White House’s willingness to sign a security agreement with us for the next decade, Congress’ right and ability to strengthen Israel’s security must be respected and upheld,” Oren stated.

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