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Israel hopes to sign new US military aid package soonest


Created: 07/25/2016 12:54 PM

JERUSALEM (AP) — A senior Israeli official will travel to Washington next week in the hopes of signing a long-anticipated agreement that could result in increased U.S. military assistance to Israel, the Israeli prime minister's office said Monday.

The premier's office said in a statement that Brig. Gen. (Res.) Jacob Nagel, acting head of Israel's National Security Council, will meet White House officials to sign an agreement "as soon as possible."

The U.S. gives Israel $3.1 billion annually in an agreement expiring before the 2018 fiscal year. The Obama administration has offered Israel an enhanced decade-long military aid package to ease Israel's concerns over the U.S.-led Iranian nuclear deal.

Since the Iran deal was signed, the U.S. and Israel have haggled over how much Israel would receive. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once reportedly suggested Israel might get a better deal from the next U.S. administration.

White House officials declined to comment on Israel's announcement of Nagel's visit, but said U.S. and Israeli officials are in regular contact to try to finalize the deal.

The Israeli prime minister's office said Israel does not seek an increase in the already agreed upon $3.1 billion for the 2017 fiscal year.

"Israel places great value on the predictability and certainty of the military assistance it receives from the United States and on honoring bilateral agreements," the prime minister's office said.

(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)