The US will cut five per cent from its annual military aid package to Israel as part of budgetary spending cuts, the Israeli daily Maariv reported on Friday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have instructed Israeli officials in Washington not to ask the US government for an exception from the fiscal measures. At $175 million, the cut is about a third of what Israel was expecting it to be.
According to the newspaper, the reduced aid is likely to affect Israel's ability to purchase advanced F-35 stealth fighters, 19 of which were supposed to be delivered by the US in 2016. Budget cuts have also forced the Pentagon to order a reduction in production of the F-35s, from 2,500 to 1,200 aircraft, making each one more expensive to buy.
The budget cuts are also expected to affect future joint military exercises between the US and Israel as well as funding for joint missile defence development programmes Hetz 2 and Hetz 3.
The Iron Dome missile defence system set up around Israeli settlements is not included in the projects whose funding is to be cut, said Maariv.