US approves record $38bn Israel military aid deal

The US has agreed to supply Israel with military aid for the next 10 years in a record $38bn (£ deal - the largest in US history.

The pact will elevate US aid to Israel from $3.1bn a year currently to $3.8bn, officials say, but the Israelis had to make concessions to secure the money.

The agreement, to be signed on Wednesday, follows 10 months of talks.

It was approved despite frustration within the Obama administration at Israeli settlement building.

The agreement, which replaces a 10-year package set to expire in 2018, "constitutes the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US history", said the state department.

Israel will receive, among other things, $500m a year for missile defence programmes.

But the pact includes an undertaking that Israel will eventually spend all of the funds through the American defence industry, rather than its own military contractors.

Israel must also not seek additional funds from Congress beyond what will be guaranteed annually in the new package.

Mr Obama has sought to demonstrate his support for Israel's security in order to undercut criticism that his administration has not been supportive of its Middle East ally.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had signalled he might wait for Mr Obama's successor in the hope of securing a better deal.

Relations have been sour between the two leaders since March 2015, when Mr Netanyahu appeared before US Congress to lobby against the Iran deal advocated by Mr Obama.

Officials say Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu may meet for talks at next week's UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have also been a sticking point between the allies.

Only last month, the White House chided Israel for a "dramatic acceleration" in such building on occupied Palestinian territory.

Washington has also said Mr Netanyahu's policies, as well as Palestinian violence, are jeopardising chances of a peace deal.