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The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Mr Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Mr Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.

In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.

The deal takes into account neither inflation nor the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.

A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.

Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even The New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.

Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.

But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, ­Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.

Almost no one blames the US for Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own nuclear arsenal.

In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.

The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.

Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.

The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyber­warfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Mr Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash over Palestinian statehood.

Some believe that Mr Obama signed the aid package to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Mr Netanyahu into making peace.

Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate unity to confound critics of the aid deal.

If Mr Obama really wanted to pressure Mr Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Mr Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act against the Palestinians with continuing US impunity.

- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2016-09-19/palestinians-lose-in-us-military-aid-deal-with-israel/#sthash.fL4Eq28N.dpuf
Trump Appoints Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser: Report

By Chris Sommerfeldt

November 17, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "NYDaily News" -  President-elect Donald Trump has tapped retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to become his national security adviser, a source with knowledge of the matter has revealed.

The source told NBC Wednesday evening that Trump had settled on Flynn, who was also being considered for the secretary of defense post.

The Daily News could not independently confirm the report, and the Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

Earlier in the evening, Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the President-elect had met with Flynn and added he would make a "fantastic addition" to the team.  

"He has been a companion on the campaign trail quite a bit as we've seen over the past few months," Miller told Fox News' Megyn Kelly.

Flynn, 57, was appointed Defense Intelligence Agency director in 2012, but had his tenure cut short in 2014 after an apparent falling out with top Obama administration officials.  

Much aligned with Trump's campaign rhetoric, Flynn claims in a recently published book that the U.S. is losing a "world war" against radical Islam because of "political correctness." In the book, he also claims without proof that American Islamists are attempting to create "an Islamic state right here at home" by pushing to implement "legal standing for Sharia."  

The retired three star general has also suggested he might be on board with killing relatives of suspected terrorists and once tweeted, "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL."

Like Trump, Flynn sees a military ally in controversial Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he was seated next to at a banquet in Moscow last year. Flynn has also appeared several times on the state-owned TV station, Russia Today, which the U.S. State Department has accused of being a mouthpiece for Putin.   

Flynn officially threw his support behind Trump when he made a fiery speech at the Republican convention in July. During the speech, Flynn accused President Obama and Hillary Clinton of betraying the core principles of the United States and even led the convention crowd in chants of "Lock her up!"

Flynn's convention appearance puzzled many generals he had served with, as it broke their unofficial code of not picking sides in presidential races.

Flynn gained further notoriety when he retweeted an anti-Semitic tweet that said, "Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore." He later apologized for the retweet, claiming it was a "mistake."

The appointment of Flynn comes as the Trump transition team is experiencing several shakeups.

Mike Rogers, the team's national security adviser, resigned from his position on Tuesday. Rogers' resignation in turn came just hours after embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was demoted from running the transition team.

© Copyright 2016 NYDailyNews.com. All rights reserved.

Trump offers ‘Russia-loving’ Michael Flynn national security adviser post : He claimed that the rise of Islamic extremism in the Middle East, including the emergence of Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria, was not the result of chance or ignorance – but of calculated thinking.

Trump selects candidates for CIA, attorney general: transition; Donald Trump has tapped three conservative loyalists and Army veterans to lead his national security and law enforcement teams, including Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director

Obama urges Trump not to cut deals with Russia: President Obama urged his successor to continue a tough-but-open policy on Russia, saying Thursday that President-elect Donald Trump should not fall into the trap of seeking short-term deals with the rival power for the sake of expediency.

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