U.S. to Finalize $10b Arms Sale to Mideast Allies Amid Iran Threat, New York Times Reports

Deal - which seeks to strengthen Israel's qualitative advantage without giving it a green light to strike Iran - would mark first sale of V-22 Osprey to a foreign country, report says.

Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen

The United States is expected to finalize an agreement next week in which it will provide $10 billion worth of weapons to its allies in the Middle East, including Israel, in an effort to bolster defenses against Iran, the New York Times reported Thursday.

The arms deal is designed to beef up the military capabilities of Israel, Saudia Arabia and The United Arab Emirates, and is the second in scope only to the $29.5 billion sale of F-15 fighter jets to the Saudis announced in 2010, according to the report.

In the agreement reported on by the Times, Israel is authorized to buy new refueling tanker planes that will increase the country's strike range and ability to reach Iran, new missiles designed to target air-defense raiders, and aircraft for transporting troops, which would mark the first sale of the V-22 Osprey to a foreign military.

During his upcoming visit to Israel and the Middle East, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will work to seal the agreements, which have been negotiated in secret for the past year, the Times reported. Hagel's visit comes on the heels of the trips by U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Israel. Obama promised to augment security assistance and provide advanced military technology to Israel, the Times said.

Sources in Israel confirmed to Haaretz that part of the reason behind Hagel's visit was to examine a significant weapons deal between Israel and the United States.

The American weapons proposal is intended to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge in the region, sources told Haaretz.

However, the Times reported, the deal was carefully crafted not to imply a green light for an Israeli strike on Iran. The United States' goal, according to the report, was to upgrade Israel's military capabilities without bolstering the hawkish elements in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government who are pushing for a strike on Iran.

Besides Iran, the deal is designed to address the growing security concerns of chemical weapons falling into hostile hands in Syria, and militant violence in the Sinai Peninsula, according to the Times.

The extent of the military aid Israel will receive and the size of the weapons deal will be determined during Hagel's meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Haaretz has learned.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testifies before Congress committee, April 16, 2013, on the Defense 2014 budget.Credit: AP

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