A senior Administration official told CNN that there is “no specific package” in response to a New York Times report that President Barack Obama offered to bolster defense support to Israel in a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We have repeatedly offered the Israeli leadership to hold these consultations, including the President to the Prime Minister on their last few calls,” a senior administration official told CNN on Thursday.
According to the administration official, Israel made it clear in private and public that they do not want to discuss increasing U.S. defense support at this time.
Earlier this week Obama suggested that Netanyahu may be waiting to see if Congress rejects the Iran deal but also reiterated his support for Israel.
“I think there’s been widespread opposition to the deal inside of Israel,” Obama told the New York Times in an interview on Tuesday. “It may be that it requires this to play itself out. He perhaps thinks he can further influence the congressional debate. And I’m confident we’re going to be able to uphold this deal and implement it without Congress preventing that. “
On Thursday, an Israeli Cabinet minister told CNN that the United States has indicated that it is ready to discuss further defense assistance.
“Clearly you can help Israel defend against the conventional threat,” but “there is no real compensation for a nuclear threat,” Energy and Water Resources Minister Yuval Steinitz said.
“It is true that it was already said to us … that the United States is ready to examine with us what else should be done in light of the possibility” that an Iran freed of sanctions could boost its military and send more monetary assistance to proxies, Steinitz said.
“This is appreciated. And I assume that as soon as we are ready, we will be discussing between the two states. … For the time being our main focus will remain the main issue, and the main issue is the nuclear agreement with Iran,” Steinitz said.
Next week Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will travel to Israel to smooth over concerns about the Iran deal.
A defense official tells CNN when Carter goes to Israel next week he will discuss more intelligence sharing and coordination aimed at detecting malign Iranian activities.
The official also said the offer is “always out there” for more missile defense and equipment to Israel like V-22s, but not to expect the United States to offer any “anti-Iranian” weapons, such as heavy bombs that can target underground facilities.
A senior administration official told CNN that unless Israeli political leadership is willing to authorize consultations, they do not expect serious discussion to take place during Carter’s visit.
The official also said that Carter’s visit next week reiterates that the United States and Israel’s defense relationship “remains as robust as ever.”
On Tuesday, Netanyahu called the Iran deal a “stunning, historic mistake.”
Obama and Netanyahu also spoke on the phone Tuesday following the announcement of the deal.
According to a readout from the White House, Obama told Netanyahu that the agreement would “not diminish our concerns regarding Iran’s support for terrorism and threats toward Israel.”
CNN’s Erin McLaughlin contributed to this report.