Lieberman in Washington to discuss military aid deal
Sources say final disagreements to be ironed out soon, and both sides are working to complete negotiations as fast as possible; Kahlon calls on PM and defense minister to accept current US proposal, saying it could give IDF 'a significant strategic advantage.'
After Lieberman and Carter's meeting, a senior Israeli source in Washington said that "we could reach an agreement on the aid deal soon. There are disagreements, but also a willingness to bridge those gaps."
The source stressed that "the conversation was good and practical, and there is a willingness to reach an agreement on aid for Israel's missile defense system, regardless of the presidential elections in the United States. The goal is to reach an agreement as fast as possible."
Minister Lieberman declined to comment about the meeting, while a senior defense source said that the Palestinian issue and international peace initiatives did not come up during the meetings.
"His meetings at the Pentagon were strictly on professional matters," the source said.
The defense source went on to say that "The minister and his hosts see eye to eye on the threats in the region and the Iranian issue," and stressed that "technological and intelligence cooperation is tight."
The source said disagreements on the military aid deal mostly revolved around nuances, and said he believed an agreement will be reached soon.
The Pentagon said in a statement after the meeting that "Secretary Carter and Minister Lieberman reaffirmed the strength of the US- Israeli defense relationship and the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel's security. They also discussed regional security challenges in the Middle East and areas of mutual defense cooperation."
During a Kulanu faction meeting on Monday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon called on the prime minister and defense minister to accept the American proposal.
"The proposal is positive and fair," Kahlon said. "The defense establishment could definitely make do with the current proposal, and there's no need for us to make moves that could be seen as interfering in the United States' internal affairs."
"Accepting the American aid proposal, alongside the multi-annual budget we've passed for the first time in years, will give the IDF a significant strategic advantage, and enable it to be prepared for any scenario," Kahlon added.
A source in the Prime Minister's Office said, "The National Security Council is running the negotiations on behalf of the prime minister with the American counterpart, Susan Rice, responsibility and with level-headedness to reach the best results."
A close confidant of the prime minister said cynically, "it's a shame that officials with limited experience in negotiations are interfering. It's no wise, it doesn't help, and it doesn't make a difference."