HERZLIYA, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated his country's desire to acquire V-22 aircraft — a purchase that would be part of a new military aid deal he said he hopes to conclude with Washington.
Speaking Thursday evening at a US Independence Day event in Israel, Netanyahu hailed US-Israel bonds, expressed gratitude for Israel's newest F-35 fighter and hinted that he intends to purchase with US aid the Bell Boeing V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft.
"I'm deeply grateful for the political and military support America has given Israel over the years and indeed just now. We came from the Air Force cadets [graduation ceremony], and we saw our magnificent young men and women flying those machines. They're American machines," Netanyahu told celebrants at the US ambassador's residence here.
"We appreciate the latest machine, the F-35. We'll talk about the other versions we want. Vertical takeoff, that's a hint," he said.
As for protracted negotiations toward a new agreement on the next decade of US security assistance to Israel, the Israeli premier had this to say: "I hope that we'll conclude a memorandum of understanding for the invaluable American support for Israel's defenses for the next decade."
Netanyahu has been criticized by ministers in his own government and opposition politicians for squandering Washington's goodwill to conclude the deal on Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance to Israel. Among those urging him to sign is Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
At a meeting with reporters in Washington last month following talks with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Lieberman said he expected the aid deal to be concluded by November.
The new FMF deal will follow an existing $30 billion package, inked in 2007, that will expire in 2018.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.