The US has agreed a military aid package for Israel worth $38bn (£28bn) over the next 10 years, officials say, the largest such deal in US history.
The previous pact, set to expire in 2018, saw Israel get $3.1bn annually.
The new agreement follows 10 months of behind-the-scenes talks and will be signed on Wednesday.
Pro-Palestinian groups criticised the deal, saying it rewards Israel despite the ongoing construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
A pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said the deal would send a “strong message of deterrence” to Israel’s enemies.
Last month, the White House warned that the construction of settlements posed a “serious and growing threat to the viability of a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
A brief statement issued by the US state department on Tuesday said the new memorandum of understanding with Israel on security assistance, running from 2019 until 2028, constituted “the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US history”.
Officials said the new package would for the first time incorporate money – $500m a year – for Israeli missile defence programmes. They were previously funded on an annual basis by Congress.
Israel had agreed not to lobby Congress for additional funds during the lifetime of the deal unless a new war broke out, the officials said.
The pact also reportedly includes an undertaking that Israel will eventually only use the money to buy products from the US defence industry, rather than its own.
Israel will no longer be able to spend some of the funds on fuel for its military too.
US President Barack Obama had been keen to strike a deal before leaving office to counter criticism that his administration had been insufficiently supportive of a key ally’s security.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had signalled that he might wait for Mr Obama’s successor in the hope of securing a better deal worth up to $4.5bn a year.
Relations have been strained between the two leaders for years, and worsened in March 2015 when Mr Netanyahu appeared before Congress to lobby against the Iran nuclear deal advocated by Mr Obama.
Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu are expected to address the UN General Assembly in New York next week, but no plans for a formal meeting have been announced.
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Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
Nigeria Spends N231.27 Billion on Arms Procurement in Four Years Amidst Rising Security Challenges
The Federal Government of Nigeria has disbursed a total of N231.27 billion for arms and ammunition procurement over the past four years.
Despite this significant investment, security agencies argue that the allocated funds are insufficient to effectively tackle the myriad security challenges afflicting the nation.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, defended the substantial budget for arms purchases during a session with the House of Representatives.
He emphasized that Nigeria’s dependence on foreign countries for military hardware, which are priced in dollars, diminishes the impact of the substantial budget when converted to the local currency.
General Musa explained, “We don’t produce what we need in Nigeria, and if you do not produce what you need, that means you are at the beck and call of the people that produce these items. All the items we procured were bought with hard currency, none in naira.”
He further illustrated the challenges faced, citing that a precision missile for drones costs $5,000, underscoring the magnitude of the expenses associated with arms procurement.
An analysis of the annual budgets for the Ministry of Defence and eight other armed forces from 2020 to 2022 reveals allocations of N11.72 billion, N10.78 billion, and N9.64 billion, respectively.
In 2023, N47.02 billion was disbursed for arms procurement, supplemented by a recently passed budget of N184.25 billion, resulting in a total of N231.27 billion.
Security expert Chidi Omeje raised concerns about the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), which is tasked with manufacturing arms locally. Omeje criticized DICON’s underperformance, urging the government to revamp the agency to reduce reliance on foreign nations for arms and ammunition.
Omeje stressed, “The new government must make sure that DICON lives up to its responsibilities,” highlighting the urgency of fostering self-sufficiency in arms production to address the country’s security challenges effectively.
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