Clinton tells Israel she'll safeguard its 'military edge'

With less than two months to go before US election day, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is fending off outrage over remarks in which she said many supporters of Republican candidate Donald Trump belong in a "basket of deplorables" (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Jerusalem (AFP) - US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says that if elected she would work with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make sure Israel's strategic military edge is preserved.

"Shortly after being inaugurated I would invite the prime minister to Washington for meetings, I would send my joint chiefs and intelligence experts to Israel to meet with their counterparts," she said in an interview with Israeli Channel Two television aired on Thursday.

"What we need to do first and foremost (is) to be sure that qualitative military edge is unmatched," she said.

The US and Israeli governments have for several months been negotiating the terms of a new 10-year defence aid pact to replace the current one, which expires in 2018 and is worth more than $3 billion (2.7 billion euros) per year.

The Netanyahu government wants the United States to increase the annual amount of military assistance it provides.

In the Channel Two interview, Clinton said the prospect of an election victory for her Republican rival Donald Trump should alarm all Israelis regardless of their political views.

She said that Trump favoured a nuclear strike on the Islamic State group, which is fighting in the devastating conflict in Syria, right next door to the Jewish state.

"His understanding of the broader dangers in the region should alarm any Israeli no matter where that person is on the political spectrum," said the Democratic Party candidate.

"Using nukes against ISIS... not knowing the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas. How does that in any way help Israel," she asked, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

She added that Trump, who has praised Vladimir Putin, would not seek to hamper the Russian president's actions in Syria but preferred "giving a full carte blanche to Putin to do whatever he seems to want to do, right on Israel's doorstep".