The US government will provide top-flight fighter jets to Israel next year to boost its military power, US Vice President Joe Biden said during a speech in Washington. He also vowed that any final nuclear deal with Iran would ensure Israel’s security.
“No US president has done more to support Israel than US President Barack Obama,” Biden said, evidenced by the fact the Obama administration has provided Israel with $20 billion in military assistance, Sputnik said in a report.
Biden won applause from a pro-Israel audience when he told them the US would begin delivery of Lockheed Martin’s new F-35 jets to its ally next year, making Israel the only country in the Middle East to have the new stealth warplane.
But he was met with silence when he reaffirmed US support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an allusion to White House objections to Netanyahu’s comments last month casting doubt on his commitment to a Palestinian state.
In February 2015, Israel signed a contract with the United States for the purchase of 14 F-35 fighter jets, amounting to $3 billion, according to Israel’s Defense Ministry.
Previous media reports alleged that Israel had ordered at least 25 F-35 aircraft in response to Russia signing contracts on delivery of S-300 air defense systems to Iran and Syria.
Biden’s appearance at an event hosted by the Israeli Embassy was the latest sign of White House efforts to lower the temperature after a period of acrimony between Obama and Netanyahu. It came after Obama apologized on Thursday and took “full responsibility” for the death of two American and Italian hostages in a US drone strike in January on al-Qaeda compound in Pakistan near the Afghan border. The two hostages reportedly had been held hostage for years by the group.
Ex-CIA Chief Gets Probation
Former CIA director David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine but was spared prison time on Thursday after pleading guilty to mishandling classified information.
The retired four-star general apologized as he admitted in federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina, to giving the information to a woman who was writing his biography. He agreed under a plea deal to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material, France24 reported.
US Magistrate Judge David Keesler raised the fine from the $40,000 that had been recommended to the maximum possible financial penalty for that charge, noting it needed to be higher to be punitive and reflect the gravity of the offense. “This constitutes a serious lapse of judgment,” Keesler said during the hour-long hearing.
The guilty plea ended an embarrassing chapter for a man described in letters to the court as one of the finest military leaders of his generation. Petraeus, 62, served stints as the top US commander in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was once considered a possible vice presidential or presidential candidate.
He resigned from the CIA in 2012 after it was revealed that he was having an affair with the biographer, Army Reserve officer Paula Broadwell.
“Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half year ordeal that resulted from mistakes that I made,” he told reporters after the sentencing. “As I did in the past, I apologize to those closest to me and many others.”
Keesler said the heads of state, senators and high-ranking US military officials who wrote letters submitted by defense attorneys in support of Petraeus agreed he had “committed a grave but very uncharacteristic error in judgment.”
Civil liberties and government transparency advocates had questioned the plea deal, saying the government’s lenient treatment of Petraeus suggested prosecutors maintain double standards. Defendants in other leak cases have received harsher punishments, including prison.