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US Considers Increased Military Aid to Israel; Dov Zakheim Comments

obamaThe U.S. and Israel are holding preliminary talks about a new 10-year military assistance package to help Israel address border-security challenges and modernize capabilities for defending against adversaries, Defense News reported Thursday.

Barbara Opall-Rome writes President Barack Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March and agreed to consider increasing current $30 billion aid levels, which expire in 2017.

The 2007 agreement between the two countries did not address Israel’s qualitative military edge concerns that were recently codified into US law, the article notes.

“QME, which pertains to Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself against any combination of Mideast adversaries, was always implied but never explicitly linked to long-term FMF agreements or security assistance planning,” said Dov Zakheim, formerly Pentagon comptroller and undersecretary of defense.

Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., told Defense News that large U.S. arms sales to other Middle Eastern nations “raise the question of armies having capabilities similar to our own and how we make sure we can maintain our QME.”

In addition to Israeli QME concerns, military modernization and new threats from regional instability are meant to be central to the upcoming talks. 

A report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service shows the U.S. supplied $91.9 billion in weapons to the region between 2008 and 2011, Defense News reports.

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