The United States Congress approved a deal on Friday boosting its military aid to Israel to 30 billion dollars over the next decade aimed at countering a "resurgent" Iran and its allies. The deal reflects an increase in aid value of more than 25 percent.
America's pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), welcomed the congressional action, saying it would increase US aid to Israel to 2.55 billion dollars in fiscal year 2009, up from 2.38 billion dollars this year.
"The United States has an abiding interest in the state of Israel," US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said before signing the memorandum of understanding for the aid package with the director general of the Israeli foreign ministry in Jerusalem.
"The United States understands that Israel lives in an increasingly dangerous region ... where Iran is resurgent, where Iran is seeking a nuclear capability, where it is seeking to expand its conventional power," he added.
"There is now a nexus of cooperation between Iran, Syria, Hizbullah ... and other groups that are responsible for conflict in this region," including the Palestinian Hamas, Burns concluded.
A statement from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the deal "illustrates the depth of the relationship between the two countries and the commitment of the United States to the defense of Israel and preserving its qualitative superiority."
The package is part of a new military pact with US allies in the region aimed at countering the "negative influences" of the Al-Qaeda terror network, Hizbullah, and arch-enemies Iran and Syria.
Apart from Israeli aid, the deal includes a 20-billion-dollar weapons package for Saudi Arabia, one of 13 billion dollars for Egypt, and reportedly arms deals worth at least 20 billion dollars for other Gulf allies.
The aid package for Israel constitutes the largest of its kind ever given to the State by the US, and also that of the longest commitment. It was worked out over six months of negotiations conducted by an Israeli delegation including Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Bucharis, Israeli Ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor, and Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramowitz.