Advisor: Trump Will Increase Military Aid to Israel
Donald Trump, if elected as president in the fall, will give in to Israel’s demands should negotiations with the Obama administration over a new long-term “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) hit a wall, Trump’s Israel advisor said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.
“I can’t give advice on how Israel should bargain and how it should develop its own strategy but certainly the Trump administration is not looking to cut back on foreign aid and will in all likelihood increase it significantly,” David Friedman, one of Trump’s advisors on Israel-related issues, told Israel’s Channel 2 News.
Negotiations are currently underway between Israel and the Obama administration for a new 10-year defense aid package that is expected to reflect the challenges Israel faces in the aftermath of the Iranian nuclear deal. “Even in these days of belt-tightening, we are prepared to sign the single largest military assistance package with any country in history,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice told a large Jewish gathering this month.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, on an official visit to the U.S., said on Tuesday that the two sides are close to finalizing deal on the increased defense aid. “We need a good agreement within an appropriate amount of time and I see no contradiction between the two. I believe we can reach an agreement by November,” Times of Israel quoted Lieberman as saying.
Lieberman met on Monday with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Washington. Following the meeting, a senior Israeli official said in a briefing to reporters that it is important to close a deal soon so as to ensure the IDF and Defense Ministry can cover their multi-year plan.
“The negotiations are being conducted rationally and responsibly and, in the end, we will bring a good result,” a senior official in the prime minister’s office was quoted as saying by Haaretz. “The prime minister thinks he can achieve a better deal than what is on the table now and we believe that we shall soon reach a decision.”
According to Friedman, Trump’s view is “that the aid package to Israel will certainly not go down, it in all likelihood will go up in a material amount because Israel must maintain a technological and military superiority within in the region.”
“I know that Donald Trump has a deep-rooted affection, if not love, for the State of Israel,” Friedman added.
A poll conducted for Channel 2 showed that Hillary Clinton remains the favorite U.S. presidential candidate in the eyes of the Israeli public. 42 percent of Israelis prefer to see Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, win the presidency in the fall, while 35 percent favor Trump. Nonetheless, 43 percent of respondents believe Trump would get along better with Prime Minister Netanyahu, compared with 34 percent who think that Netanyahu would have a better working relationship with Clinton.
Trump also edges Clinton 37 percent vs. 36 percent as who would be a better president for Israel.
Speaking to over 1,000 Christian and evangelical leaders in New York on Tuesday, Trump said, “I can’t imagine Bibi likes Obama too much,” referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “He’s totally forsaken Israel.”
In his address to AIPAC in March, Trump promised to meet with Netanyahu “immediately,” and “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”
Trump is planning a trip to Israel in the coming weeks, according to sources close to the campaign.