3 reasons for a USD 38 bn aid package to Israel

The relations between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu have often been depicted as distant if not frankly acrimonious. Yet such a low point between the two leaders never questioned the deep strategic relationship – that “ironclad bond” – between the United States and Israel.

On September 14, 2016 was signed the largest aid package (worth a total USD 38 billion) ever to be delivered by the US to its allies in history. The package will go into effect once the current one ends in 2018 and will last for 10 years, till 2028. This is a reminder “of (our) unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security,” US National Security Advisor Susan Rice said. Actually the message here is threefold.

First, it somehow counterbalances accusations of Obama’s leniency towards Iran since the lifting of international sanctions (not US ones) in January 2016. Second, it’s an electoral opportunity to show Democrats can act strongly on foreign policy issues and it’s Obama’s direct support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Third, it’s a means to tell Russia that the US intends to remain fully active in the Middle East over the long term and that they can do business with very different actors, whether it’s Israel or Saudi Arabia.