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Israel negotiating new U.S. aid package

Israel is negotiating a 10-year extension to the annual assistance package it receives from the United States. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who met Tuesday with President Bush at the White House, said a number of meetings have been set up to shape the new agreement and it is his hope that “it will be greater than before.” This year, Israel received $2.4 billion in defense assistance, and no economic assistance for the first time since the early 1970s. This was the final year of a 10-year arrangement that increased defense assistance by $60 million a year while reducing economic assistance by $120 million a year. Israel negotiated the end to economic assistance in the late 1990s, when its economy was booming, and reliance on the United States for welfare was beginning to be perceived as embarrassing.