Daily TIP

Israel, U.S. sign record $38 billion defense aid agreement

Posted by Tip Staff - September 14, 2016


Israel and the United States reaffirmed their longstanding partnership and military cooperation today by formally signing the largest military aid agreement in U.S. history. The memorandum of understanding (MOU), which lasts from FY 2019 through FY 2028, will provide Israel with $3.8 billion a year in aid—up from the $3.1 billion annually under the current pact, which is set to expire in two years. The new aid package includes $500 million per year dedicated to buying and improving missile defense systems, which will make Israel’s strategic calculus easier, said Israel’s acting National Security Advisor Yaakov Nagel, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Jewish state. “The military assistance package that the United States has generously agreed to provide Israel is not taken for granted and will help us shoulder the enormous defense burden that we face,” he said.
Both countries’ leaders praised the agreement. “This agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of defense aid for Israel in the next decade,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “I want to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement.” Obama added in his own statement that “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable... For as long as the state of Israel has existed, the United States has been Israel’s greatest friend and partner, a fact underscored again today.” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton affirmed that the agreement “sends a clear message to the region and the world that we will always stand should-to-shoulder with Israel.”
Because all of the American aid must be spent on American military equipment and other agreements with American contractors, the Pentagon will gain access to new military technologies that Israel develops and modifies. “This MOU is not just good for Israel—it’s good for the United States,” said National Security Adviser Susan Rice. “Our Israeli friends will be able to buy more of the advanced capabilities produced by the United States, which will support American jobs. Like so many aspects of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, this MOU is win-win.”


The husband of a British-Iranian charity worker who was sentenced to five years in prison by an Iranian court last week said that his wife is being held as a “bargaining chip,” The Evening Standard reported on Tuesday.Richard Ratcliffe, who was recently allowed to speak to his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, explained that she feels “desperate” as “there’s nothing she can do. She’s tried good behaviour, tried confessing [to false charges] and she’s still being held as a bargaining chip.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested and separated from her toddler daughter, Gabriella, as she was preparing to leave Iran after visiting family in April. She told her husband that by her calculation, she has been apart from her daughter for a fifth of the child’s life. “I can’t bear to be here, separated from my baby, one day more. It’s horrendous,” Ratcliffe recounted his wife saying.
When Ratcliffe asked his wife to specify what charges she was facing, she checked with a guard and responded that they were “national security-related.” It isn’t clear if she was unaware of the actual charges or prevented from revealing them.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe is in the high-security wing of Iran’s notorious Evin prison, which is run by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). She was previously kept in solitary confinement for 45 days, but is now believed to be in a cell with another prisoner. When her parents and daughter come to visit, guards cover their heads with sacks so they can’t see where she’s being held.
“They isolate you, blindfold you, put a bag over your head and make you face the wall,” said Ratcliffe, who spoke to former detainees. “There are two or three interrogators and the most senior you’ll never see. He’ll only ever be a voice. They question you relentlessly, and go through all your personal emails to build a case.”
An editorial in The Telegraph last month urged the UK not to upgrade its diplomatic ties to Tehran “while the citizens of this country are being used as pawns by Iran.” According toThe Evening Standard, the day before Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced, the UK appointed an ambassador to Iran for the first time in five years.
Reuters reported in July that the six dual nationals arrested in recent months comprised “the highest number of Iranians with dual-nationality detained at one time in recent years to have been acknowledged.” One more dual national, a former member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, was arrested in August. Many analysts believe that Iran is “seeking concessions from the West in exchange for releasing” dual nationals, the Associated Press wrote that month.
Other dual nationals currently detained in Iran include Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian scholar who was arrested earlier this year when she returned to Iran to see her family and has recently been hospitalized; American-Iranian businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi; British-Iranian businessman Kamal Foroughi; and Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national with U.S. permanent residency.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office upgraded its travel warning in July, emphasizing that dual nationals may be “arbitrarily detained in Iran.” The UK’s warning is similar to one issued by the U.S. State Department, which warned in August that citizens visiting Iran could be “unjustly detained.”
In Why Does Iran Keep Taking American Hostages?, published in the September 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Iran expert Ali Alfoneh described the regime’s detainment of foreign and dual-nationals as “a perfectly normal procedure and political practice in the Islamic Republic. That has been the case since the first day of the revolution and continues until today.” (via TheTower.org)

Too many fried and processed foods, too much sugar and fat – these dietary pitfalls are common to many people on a tight budget everywhere, including both Jews and Bedouin Muslims living in Israel’s Negev desert. Leket Israel, a national food bank and food recovery organization, had the innovative idea of offering a nutrition workshop for mothers from both populations, led in Hebrew and Arabic by a dietician from each culture. “We do workshops on a regular basis all around Israel to give needy populations tools to help them improve nutrition and make healthier food choices on a low budget,” says Leket Israel’s in-house nutritionist, Smadar Hod Ovadia. “This specific workshop is the first time we’re doing a mixed Jewish and Bedouin group. I thought it would be a good idea not only to have a mixed audience but also the two dieticians, Dana Ivankovsky and Eman Alsane, delivering tips and ideas for grocery shopping and preparing nutritious food on a limited budget to make positive changes in their families’ health.” (via Israel21c)


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