Skip to main content

Barak slams Netanyahu for 'reckless' erosion of US military deal

Former PM slams incumbent, saying Israel would have got even more than $38bn in military aid if he had not 'interferred' in Iran nuclear deal
Barak said Netanyahu displayed 'reckless conduct' in dealing with the US (AFP/MEE)

A former Israeli prime minister on Thursday said Benjamin Netanyahu had eroded both national security and the size of US defence aid through his "irresponsible" handling of relations with Washington.

"Netanyahu’s reckless conduct has... undermined Israel's security," Ehud Barak wrote in The Washington Post.

"Israel will receive $3.8bn a year - an important contribution to our security but far less than what could have been obtained before the prime minister [Netanyahu] chose to blatantly interfere with US politics."

The US on Wednesday promised Israel $38bn between 2019 and 2028 to buy advanced planes and weaponry and boost its missile defence shield, the biggest pledge of military aid in US history. 

However, Barak and other critics say that an even more generous deal could have been achieved if Netanyahu had not campaigned so publicly and vociferously against a nuclear agreement with Iran which was backed by US President Barack Obama.

Frosty relations between the two leaders went into a deep chill last year, after Netanyahu appeared before the US Congress to lobby against the Iran deal. The White House viewed the appearance as unprecedented interference by a foreign leader.

"Expressing our opposition to the Iran nuclear deal was certainly legitimate," Barak wrote.  "But instead of holding a candid dialogue behind closed doors with President Obama, Netanyahu went behind his back."

The previous 10-year aid package had amounted to $30bn, but did not include the $5bn US assistance for missile defence contained in the update.

Barak served as the Labour party's prime minister between 1999 and 2001, then as defence minister from 2009 to 2013 in a coalition government under Netanyahu.

The highly decorated former armed forces chief said the new US defence package packs less bang for the buck than might appear, due to erosion caused by inflation in arms prices and some of the deal's terms. One is the gradual phasing out of a concession that in the past allowed Israel to spend 26.3 percent of the aid outside the US, a privilege that gave a valuable boost Israel's own defence industry.

Another condition is that Israel agrees not to lobby the US congress for extra missile defence funding, except in emergencies and only with the agreement of the US administration.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.