- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 5, 2015

Israel is asking the United State to send $5 billion in annual defense aid for a decade, beginning in 2017, U.S. congressional sources told Reuters Wednesday.

Israeli officials have asked for an increase of its current defense aid package, worth an average of $3 billion a year, which will expire in 2017. The new package would provide $5 billion per year in military aid for 10 years for a total of $50 billion, the congressional aides told Reuters.

Israeli officials have said an increase in military funding is necessary to counter threats that will arise as a result of the international nuclear agreement with Iran, which Israel has strongly opposed.

The nuclear deal places restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchanges for sanctions relief.

Israel has argued that Iran’s increased revenue from sanctions relief will allow it to spend more on its military programs and increase backing for proxies that are hostile to Israel in Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and elsewhere.

The aid proposal is still in its early stages and has not yet been formally brought to congress for approval the aides said.

“First they have to negotiate with the White House,” one senior congressional aide said of Israel, Reuters reported.

One U.S. official said it’s unlikely that the Obama administration will fully meet the $5 billion request, and predicted the two countries would settle for a sum somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to visit Washington for talks with President Obama next week, when the package is likely to be discussed and its broad outlines may be agreed.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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