The sooner Israel and the US sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on strategic cooperation and agree on a post-Iran deal security package, the better it would be for both countries, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday.
“We are working on it now; we are in negotiations. We have never, ever put any of Israel’s needs or challenges on the table with respect to other issues between us,” Kerry said during a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to the Jewish Insider.
“I am confident we will get an MOU at some point and time. The sooner the better because it allows everybody to plan appropriately,” he added.
“Israel’s security comes first and foremost. President Obama has, I think, unprecedentedly addressed those concerns with the Iron Dome, with assistance, with our efforts on global institutions to not see Israel singled out, and we will continue to do what is necessary to provide Israel with all the assistance necessary so it can provide for its own security,” Kerry said.
Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly told cabinet members that it’s unclear whether the two countries will come to an agreement during Obama’s term.
The current American aid package to Israel is set to expire in 2017, and in November it was reported that Israel made an initial request for its annual defense aid to increase. Israel wants $5 billion per year in military aid for 10 years, for a total of $50 billion, congressional aides said at the time.
But Netanyahu said that if Israel’s security needs at not be met, he would not sign a deal and would instead wait for the next president to take office in January 2017.
According to Haaretz, senior U.S. officials reacted angrily and warned that Israel would not get a better deal with the next president.
“Even as we grapple with a particularly challenging budget environment, this administration’s commitment to Israel’s security is such that we are prepared to sign an MOU [memorandum of understanding] with Israel that would constitute the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history,” one official told the newspaper.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Monday that the security package will likely be finalized “in the coming weeks.”
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