Acting National Security Adviser Ya'akov Nagel, who negotiated the $38 billion defense aid agreement with the United States, on Saturday night rejected the criticism of the deal by former Defense Ministers Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya'alon.
“The agreement in the amount of $38 billion over ten years comes at a time of cuts in the U.S. defense budget, including the missile defense budget. The signing of the agreement underscores the depth and strength of the relationship between Israel and the United States,” said Nagel, who added that those who criticize the agreement simply do not understand the negotiation process.
“I am exposed to disinformation in the media by irresponsible critics, most of whom do not know the process of negotiations we held over the last three and a half years or the agreement in detail. Unfortunately much of the criticism, even from former and current officials, is totally disconnected from reality,” he said.
Nagel pointed out that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu never promised the numbers being cited by the critics of the deal, adding that the talks were accompanied closely by senior defense officials and received their support and blessing, and therefore “anonymous statements on their behalf attacking the agreement are unworthy and unsubstantiated.”
The National Security Adviser also noted that “at no point in the negotiations did Israel receive a better offer than the one in the proposal it signed. The highest offer we received is in the proposal that appears in the signed agreement. The claim that we could have receive an additional $7 billion is completely detached from reality.”
Irresponsible remarks that the agreement caused damage to Israel's defense industry are incorrect, stressed Nagel.
“The framework of the agreement sees a gradual decline [in the amount of the aid Israel may spend on Israeli-made products], which only begins in the seventh year of the agreement. So the industry, together with the Finance, Defense Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office, will have almost a decade to prepare for this change,” he explained.
Shortly after the agreement was signed, Barak attacked it and blamed Netanyahu for the fact that the scope of the aid was not as high as Israel could have received.
Ya'alon followed suit and, while he did not attack Netanyahu, he said he didn’t believe the money allocated in the agreement would meet Israel’s security needs.