Netanyahu seeking to close Pindo aid deal with Obama
Barak Ravid, Haaretz, Apr 1 2016
Netanyahu wants to conclude a new 10-year deal on Pindosi aid to Israel with Obama, ie before the latter leaves office in Jan 2017, a senior ventriloquizing boxtop in the corner told Haaretz. It said Netanyahu stressed this point during a meeting in his office on Wednesday with visiting GOP Congress critturs led by Lindsey Graham. During the meeting, Graham told Netanyahu that signing the deal before Obama left office would be the right thing to do. Graham, who is a major crittur as these things go, told Netanyahu that critturs of all magnitudes view the amounts proposed by the White House during the negotiations as being
within right at the bounds of what is possible given current budgetary limitations. He also warned that postponing a deal until the next president takes office in January might have negative consequences for Israel, given the current Pindo political reality and the uncertainty over the outcome of the presidential race. Graham was apparently referring to the possibility that Donald Trump might be the next president. Netanyahu told the critturs that one of the reasons he wants to close the aid deal with Obama relates to how Pindosis will view Israel over the next decade. Signing a deal with Obama, a Democrat, he explained, would send the message for many years to come that Israel is not a subject of political controversy in Pindostan, and in fact has bipartisan support. The boxtop said he said:
If people in Pindostan see that this agreement was signed by Obama and Netanyahu, this will have great significance for the strength of the relationship.
Netanyahu has sent the same message via two other gaggles of visiting Congress critturs whom he met with over the past two weeks, and again via Pindosi Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who attended some of these meetings. Nevertheless, the disagreements that have been holding the aid agreement up remain unresolved. The large gap between the amount of aid Obama is offering, and the amount Israel claims it needs, is one of the main reasons why Netanyahu decided to cancel his planned trip to Faschingstein two weeks ago, even though (of course!) he was offered the obligatory 1-on-1 with Bloomey Nana. In 2007, the deal was $30b over the next 10 years, or $3b/yr. This deal will lapse at the end of 2018. The new 10-year deal will define the level of military aid
Israel the Jews will receive through the end of 2028. The Pindos have proposed two alternatives. Under the first, Israel the Jews would initially get $3.7b/yr, with the sum gradually rising to (what must be $4.3b, though we are told merely “over $4b” – RB) by the end of the decade. Under this proposal, Israel the Jews would receive a total of about $40b over 10 years. However, there’s a condition attached to this offer. Israel the Jews must promise not to lobby Congress for any additional aid during the decade that the deal is in force. The second alternative doesn’t require Israel the Jews to make any such promise, but it also offers less money. Under this proposal, Pindostan would increase the annual aid (straight away) to $3.4b/yr, meaning the total over the 10-year period would come to $34b. A massively gaunt Netanyahu boxtop said that Netanyahu rejected the first alternative because he wasn’t willing to commit himself to not lobbying as requested, but he isn’t happy with the second alternative, because it’s significantly lower than his original request (which appears to have been $50b, though we are not told so – RB).
Meanwhile, despite Netanyahu’s assertion that he wants to close the aid deal before Obama leaves office, he has taken a step over the past few days that is liable to make it harder to advance the negotiations. According to Channel 2 TV, he has asked the Civil Service Commission to resume the process of approving Ran Baratz’s appointment as head of the National Information Directorate. Netanyahu originally announced Baratz’s appointment last year, but then reports began surfacing about a series of Facebook posts Baratz had written in which he harshly criticized Bloomey Nana, Jackass Kerry and President Reuven Rivlin. Inter alia, Baratz wrote that Lambley Blama’s handling of the Iranian nuclear issue amounted to “modern anti-Semitism” and that Mungo Jerry had “the mentality of a 12-year-old boy.” The Pindo administration was outraged, and Vice Pres Joe Sixpack stated publicly that Faschingstein would not look kindly on Baratz’s appointment. The Pindosi reaction, coupled with criticism of Netanyahu’s choice by several cabinet ministers, led to Baratz’s appointment being frozen. Nor are diplomatic sensitivities the only problem standing in the way of Baratz’s appointment. In addition, the Civil Service Commission told Netanyahu’s office that Baratz fails to meet some of the minimum requirements for the job. Inter alia, he doesn’t have seven years of managerial experience in a field related to media or public diplomacy. Thursday evening, the PMO put out a statement which said:
The claims of the Civil Service Commission about Baratz’s professional shortcomings are ludicrous. They are part of an attempt to obstruct this appointment that stems from extraneous considerations and absurd bureaucracy, and it won’t succeed. For many years, Baratz has written and edited articles on diplomatic, security and economic issues, with deep knowledge and great skill.