Criticism Over New US Defense Aid Package to Israel
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Despite some strong objections to the 10-year U.S. defense aid package, known as the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched a senior official to Washington on Sunday to finalize the deal.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Nagel, acting National Security Council head, will meet with U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Monday.
Critics say one major problem is the deal's "Buy America" spending provisions, which will harm Israel's military research and development.
"Israeli industry is bracing for lost funding and layoffs as a result of a proposed $38 billion, 10-year U.S. military aid package that rescinds Israel's ability to convert a significant portion of U.S. grant dollars into shekels for local research, development and procurement," Defense News reported.
The former head of Israel's elite war colleges, Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, told Defense News Israel would be "far better off" if it weaned itself from U.S. military aid.
"If this could be done in a calculated, well planned manner, it would restore our sovereignty, our military self-sufficiency and our industrial capacity," Hacohen said.
Middle East expert Caroline Glick is one of the deal's most fervent critics. In a follow-up to her June 24 post entitled, "Obama's money and Israel's sovereignty," Glick explained why it's time for Israel to walk away from U.S. aid.
"No clear Israeli interest will be advanced by concluding the aid deal presently on the table," Glick wrote. "Indeed the deal now being discussed will cause Israel massive, long-term economic and strategic damage."
Glick also said the package as it stands will cost Israelis thousands of jobs and diminish the Jewish state's ability to develop its own weapons system.
It also prevents Congress from overriding dictates of a potentially hostile administration, she explained.
Another major problem is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which over time is supposed to replace Israel's fleet of F-15 and F-16 jet fighters. The Israel Air Force has already used U.S. aid to buy 33 F-35s and would like to purchase 42 more, for a total of 75.
According to Glick's stats, the stealth fighter program has already cost the U.S. $400 billion.
"The F-35 is a disaster of epic proportions, for the U.S. first and foremost," she writes and it will be a "disaster" for Israel as well.
"That is twice what it was supposed to cost. The project is already four years behind schedule and still in development. It won't be operational until May 2018 – at the earliest," she writes.
Some key issues with the fifth generation fighter jet include its faulty cooling system, which impairs its ability to operate as a stealth fighter.
Its computer codes and software programs, which control its stealth capacities, are both defective, she explains.
But most frightening is the aircraft's Automatic Logistics Information Systems (ALIS), which leaves the F-35s vulnerable to hackers.
"For Israel, this vulnerability is prohibitive even if ALIS is ever made to work," she continues. "The significance of ALIS control over F-35s worldwide is that the U.S. – and anyone able to hack the U.S. system – will control the IAF [Israel Air Force]. It will operate at the pleasure of the U.S. government and those able to hack U.S. computers. They will be able to ground IAF planes whenever they wish."
"Whether or not a Trump or Clinton administration will be more forthcoming [with a defense aid package] is really beside the point. The point is that the U.S. aid deal is really a deal for Lockheed Martin, not for Israel. And we need to say no," Glick concludes.
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