Hagel in Israel to Discuss Iran and Syria
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrives in Israel on Sunday, where he will kick off a trip to the Middle East, his first since taking office.
Hagel will meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. He is expected to talk with Israel’s leaders about Iran, Syria, and the defense relations between the United States and Israel.
The New York Times reported on Friday that during his visit, Hagel is expected to finalize a $10 billion arms deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The deal will provide the three countries with missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran.
Under the agreement, each country would be allowed to purchase advanced armaments from American contractors. In the case of Israel, there is also substantial American financial assistance, topping $3 billion in military aid this fiscal year.
Israel would buy new missiles designed to take out an adversary’s air-defense radars, as well as advanced radars for its own warplanes, new refueling tanker planes and — in the first sale to any foreign military — the V-22 Osprey troop transport aircraft.
Hagel’s visit to Israel comes days after the Pentagon requested $220.3 million in 2014 to bolster Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency also is asking for an additional $175.9 million in fiscal year 2015 for Israel's homegrown missile defense network, according to the agency's budget proposal posted online.
The Pentagon already invested $204 million on the system in 2011 and $70 million in 2012.
During his visit to Israel several weeks ago, President Barack Obama said that Israel and the United States were opening talks on extending U.S. military aid to the Jewish state beyond 2017.
The planned U.S. budget for the coming year maintains and even increases the American defense aid to Israel.
According to the numbers published, the United States will provide Israel with $3.4 billion in defense aid, a record number.