What’s in store for the Israel Safari Park?
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a new deal with the US that will see the US provide a massive $15.7 billion subsidy to help develop the new $1.9 billion Israeli safari facility at the US-Palestine border.
The subsidy, expected to be worth $10 billion over the next five years, will help finance the construction of the 1,300-acre facility.
The new US deal is the biggest ever for Israel, a country that is expected to receive an average of $30 billion annually in US aid, which could be used to improve the lives of Palestinians, a large chunk of which live in the West Bank.
Israel, however, has long maintained that its economic ties with the United States are solely transactional and do not include diplomatic ties, as long as the US does not interfere in the affairs of other countries.
The US, for its part, is expected in the coming weeks to sign an agreement with the European Union, under which the US will buy a further $2.2 billion in loans to help finance Israel’s infrastructure projects, including roads, schools and hospitals.
Netanyahu said the new deal is a “first step” toward the establishment of a peace settlement in the Middle East.
It also comes as he seeks to shore up his political base with an aggressive campaign for the September 12 elections.
The Israeli leader has also promised to create millions of jobs in the country, with the aim of making it one of the most economically powerful in the world.
The deal comes just days after the Israeli prime minister announced that the country will resume the importation of Israeli agricultural products, with prices rising on all exports, including fruit and vegetables.
The move was hailed by the US, which was instrumental in securing a $3.5 billion aid package to Israel from the US Treasury in exchange for ending its occupation of the West Block.
But Netanyahu also made clear that he is still seeking a political settlement with the Palestinians, which he has called “the most important problem” facing the Jewish state.
“We cannot have an agreement in which Israel and the Palestinians will accept a one-state solution,” he said at the time.
Netah, who is now Israel’s ambassador to the US from 2005 to 2010, is one of several ministers who have criticized the US’ recent decision to end its embassy in Jerusalem and to move its US diplomatic mission to Tel Aviv.
Last year, Israel temporarily moved its embassy to Jerusalem, but the move was seen as a sign of increasing US pressure on Israel, as a major issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the status of Jerusalem.
Israel also maintains that Jerusalem is its capital, a position it disputes.
A joint statement issued by the Israel and US administrations said that the new American agreement would “provide significant economic and political benefits to Israel and promote stability in the region and Israel’s global competitiveness.”
It noted that the US commitment “is consistent with US support for Israel’s security, and the commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”
It added that the two sides agreed that the State Department and the US Department of Treasury will continue to support Israel’s efforts to establish a viable Palestinian state, as well as support for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and their demand for an independent and sovereign state in the Land of Israel.
“The US-Israel strategic partnership remains vital to Israel-US relations,” the statement said.
Netanyah’s spokesman said the two countries “reached a historic agreement” in order to “ensure that Israel’s citizens and the international community will have a strong and lasting relationship.”
In a speech on Monday, Netanyahu said the deal was “a very important moment for the Jewish people” and that “we cannot go back to the status quo in the future.”
“I would like to say to the American people, ‘Look, we are not going back to that,'” Netanyahu said.
“The new agreement will provide economic and economic benefits to the Jewish State, and it will provide security for the people of Israel, and for our citizens, and we are confident that it will be signed by the Americans, the Israelis, the Americans’ allies, and all countries in the middle east.”
The US Embassy in Tel Aviv will remain open and open to the public, Netanyahu added.