A senior U.S. official has warned Congress that a massive U.S. aid package to Israel that has long been in the works may not be completed before the Obama administration comes to a close at the end of this year.
Anne Patterson, an assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, informed Congress on Wednesday that the new financial and military aid agreement with Israel may not be finalized before the Obama administration ends.
U.S. officials further told the Washington Free Beacon that the agreement between the countries, known as the memorandum of understanding, or MOU, is shaping up to be "the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history."
However, discussions between the United States and Israel are ongoing, according to Patterson.
"There have been a number of meetings, very intense and long meetings with the Israelis about this and they were extremely useful in giving us a good picture of Israel’s security needs," which will be "certainly more acute over the next few years" as the Jewish state works to combat a range of regional threats, from the terror group Hamas to Iran, according to Patterson.
"I honestly don’t know if we’re going to finish this before the end of the administration because it’s hard and there are a lot of issues underway," Patterson disclosed, adding that protecting Israel’s military edge in the region is of paramount concern.
"There is no doubt that’s going to be rigorously observed," she said. "So I don’t know if we’re finished. There are lots of financial implications, there are implications on sourcing of materials, but we’re working hard on this. It’s a very high priority for the administration."
A State Department spokesperson told the Free Beacon that despite current budgetary challenges, the agreement is shaping up to be the largest in U.S. history.
"MOU discussions are ongoing, we hope to reach a new MOU that will build on the United States' historic and enduring commitment to Israel's security, provide maximum benefit to both Israel and the United States and serve as the foundation for the bilateral security relationship well through the next decade," the official said.
"Even as we grapple with a particularly challenging budget environment, this administration's commitment to Israel's security is such that we are prepared to sign an MOU with Israel that would constitute the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history," the official said.