Reprinted from The National
The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history -- to Israel -- was a win for both sides.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion (Dh11.4bn) a year to $3.8bn -- a 22 percent increase -- for a decade starting in 2019.
Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government's repeated affronts to the White House.
In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year's nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the "ethnic cleansing" of Jews.
American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party's candidate to succeed Mr Obama in November's election.
In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Mr Netanyahu for his misbehavior. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.
In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8 billion -- if Congress's assistance on developing missile defense programs is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.
The deal takes into account neither inflation nor the dollar's depreciation against the shekel.
A bigger blow still is the White House's demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 percent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.
Nonetheless, Washington's renewed military largess -- in the face of almost continual insults -- inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even The New York Times has described the aid package as "too big."
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