News Brief

A U.S. plan to increase military aid to Israel to offset growth in U.S. aid to Arab allies is being welcomed in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he and President Bush agreed in talks at the White House last month that Israel would receive $30 billion in U.S. military aid over the next decade, averaging $3 billion a year. Olmert said it was an increase of 25 percent.

“I think this is a significant and important improvement of the defense aid to Israel,” the Israeli leader said.

The U.S. aid package is designed to address Israeli concerns about Washington’s proposed sale of some $20 billion worth of advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia, including advanced satellite-guided bombs, fighter-jet upgrades and new naval vessels. The proposal has raised hackles in Israel and among Israel supporters in Congress, but on Sunday Olmert said Israel understands Washington’s need to bolster moderate Arab states through weapons sales.

The United States is also considering a $13 billion aid package to Egypt, according to a State Department spokesman.

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