An extra $600 million per year for Israel compels Olmert to say OK!
Israel signs off on U.S. arms sale to Saudis
Proposed deal aimed at countering Iran includes boost in aid for Israel
JERUSALEM - In a break from historic Israeli opposition to U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday his country understands Washington’s plan to supply state-of-the-art weapons to Riyadh as a counterweight to Iranian influence.
The United States, knowing that Israel is sensitive about such arms sales, is also offering a sharp increase in defense aid to Israel and has assured the Jewish state it will retain a fighting edge over other countries in the region, he added.
“We understand the need of the United States to support the Arab moderate states and there is a need for a united front between the U.S. and us regarding Iran,” Olmert told a weekly Cabinet meeting.
The rare agreement reflects shared U.S. and Israeli concern over the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
The proposed arms deal would include advanced weaponry and air systems that would greatly enhance the striking ability of Saudi warplanes, alarming the Israeli right. One leading hard-liner warned that Saudi Arabia, although not belligerent now, could be taken over by extremists.
Israel’s southern tip is 10 miles from Saudi Arabia across the Gulf of Aqaba.
Weapons boost for Israel
The proposed package comes with a serious sweetener for Israel: a 25 percent rise in U.S. military aid, from an annual $2.4 billion at present to $3 billion a year and guaranteed for 10 years.