On Friday, Israeli officials signaled a refusal to come to terms with the Obama administration on a military aid package billed as the single greatest offering of foreign military aid in world history.
The White House announced that they offered Israel an unprecedented $3.7 billion per year over the next ten years, an increase of $700 million per year over America’s current $3 billion commitment to Israel. The Netanyahu administration summarily demanded $4.5 billion per year instead.
Sputnik News reached out to Max Blumenthal, a senior writer at Alternet to comment on the developing negotiations. Blumenthal is the son of Clinton family insider Sidney Blumenthal, who served as an aide to former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
What do you make of Netanyahu’s refusal of the White House aid proposal?
"No matter how much Obama attempts to bend over backwards to appease Netanyahu, rewarding his expansionism and encouraging his violations of international law, it is never good enough for Netanyahu," said Blumenthal.
"Like a spoiled child, Netanyahu always wants more from his over weaning parents and what we see here is a gambit by Netanyahu and his inner circle to get a better aid package in the next administration."
Blumenthal observed that the Israeli Prime Minister believes that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will emerge successful in the November election, noting that it is Clinton who "has repeatedly pledged fealties to the Israeli lobby and its agenda."
What will Israel use the additional military aid for?
"Officially, it is being used for the expansion of the David Sling program which is a medium-range anti-ballistic missile and anti-rocket system that will be used against low-intensity homemade rockets launched from the Gaza strip, as well as the Iron Dome program which would be used against Katyusha rockets launched by Hezbollah," explained Blumenthal.
Blumenthal speculates that Israel plans to use the military aid package to obtain more advanced US weaponry, including the V-22 Osprey long-range bomber, for use against Iran, and the F-35 fighter jet. "The F-35 has not been offered to any other country and is the most advanced American attack jet in the American arsenal," he said
Blumenthal calls the White House capitulation to Israel’s demands "a boon for the military-industrial complex." He suggests that the US government seeks to protect the profits of US defense contractors, who the political establishment is beholden to.
"When Israel tried to create their own attack jet, the Lavi, Washington brought down the wrath of God on Israel because they want Israel to continue buying US jets to sustain the weapons industry," said Blumenthal. The Lavi was a fourth-generation jet fighter developed by Israel in the 1980s after which the US dramatically increased military-aid to Tel Aviv to ensure their dependence on US weapons.
"Israel’s perspective is the same as Saudi Arabia’s, which is to import as many weapons systems as possible to increase and consolidate a qualitative military edge over all possible rivals and to use those weapons to crush all challenges and in Israel’s case that is challenges to its illegal occupation," said Blumenthal.
Does the push for expanded military aid suggest that the US-Iran Nuclear Deal will fail?
A bipartisan letter signed by 81 US Senators in favor of expanding weapons aid to Israel stated that Iran may soon resume its quest for nuclear weapons, suggesting that Israel must have the means to defend itself in the event that the US-Iran nuclear deal fails.
Blumenthal pointed out that this assertion is absurd, and predicated on false pretenses.
"No, there is no reason to expect that the nuclear deal will fail, this is just a ploy by the Israeli lobby and the US to ensure the procurement of more advanced weapons systems and to prevent accountability for Israel’s 50-year occupation," he said.
"In fact, the Iran deal has been so successful so far that the Israeli lobby has been forced to push for sanctions against Iran for testing conventional ballistic missiles that have absolutely nothing to do with nuclear energy," remarked Blumenthal.
Some argue that if Obama agrees to Netanyahu’s military aid request that it could serve to breathe new life into negotiations for a two state solution – is there any reason to expect such an outcome?
"Absolutely not," exclaimed Blumenthal. "Obama put the final nail in the coffin of the two state solution by capitulating before Netanyahu, by letting Netanyahu publicly lecture him, and by doing absolutely nothing to punish Netanyahu for the expansion of settlements, repeated violations of international law, use of disproportionate force against civilians, and general flouting of any diplomatic initiative to roll back the occupation to provide the space for a viable Palestinian state."
"Obama offering the most right wing government in Israel’s history $3.7 billion per year consolidates his legacy as the most anti-Palestinian president in US history," said Blumenthal. "And through Netanyahu’s rejection of the proposal, Obama’s legacy is also consolidated as one of the weakest in holding accountable this American client state that is smaller than New Jersey."