The U.S. Senate has approved a measure that would codify into law the $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over 10 years that was negotiated in the final days of the Obama administration, JTA reported on Thursday.
The U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 was approved on Wednesday, according to the report. It gives the defense package the imprimatur of Congress, which would keep any future president from reneging. The $38 billion deal negotiated in 2016 is the most generous ever to Israel.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said in a statement the act “seeks to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself, by itself, against growing and emerging threats — including Iran’s presence close to Israel’s northern border.”
Israel is lobbying the United States and Russia to oust Iran from Syria, where it has assisted the Assad regime in crushing a civil war.
The act also expands a stockpile of weapons that the United States keeps in Israel. Israel may access the stockpile in wartime. It also urges space research cooperation between Israel and the United States.
A version of the bill, which has bipartisan backing, is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives. AIPAC urged its advance and passage.
Also approved by the Senate this week, after having garnered House approval, is the $639 billion National Defense Authorization Act.
AIPAC praised the act for including $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation and up to $50 million for U.S.-Israel cooperation to detect enemy tunnels into Israel.
The National Defense Authorization Act has passed both chambers and now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.
In December of 2016, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of a defense policy bill which includes more than $600 million for missile defense cooperation with Israel.
This aid is separate from the memorandum of understanding signed between Israel and the U.S. in September of that year, and which grants Israel $3.8 billion annually beginning in 2018 and through 2028.
After the memorandum of understanding was signed, Republican senators said they would seek to overturn part of it so that Israel can receive even more aid.