Timeline[1]

  • 1949 – U.S. financial assistance to Israel begins with a $100 million Export-Import Bank Loan.
  • 1958 – The first small-scale military loan program to Israel is granted at $400,000 in addition to a financial aid package of $37 million.
  • 1962 – Israel purchases its first advanced weapons system from the United States, the Hawk Anti-aircraft missiles.
  • 1966 – Aid to Israel increases from $37 million to $90 million, an increase of approximately 240%.
  • 1968 – Congress approves the sale of the Phantom aircraft to Israel, establishing the precedent for U.S. support for what later came to be referred to as Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) over its neighbors.
  • 1970 – Average aid per year increases to about $102 million and represents about 47% of the total military aid given by the Unites States to all foreign countries. The following year aid increased to over $2.5 billion annually.
  • 1987-1998 – Aid to Israel remains at $1.8 billion annually in military aid (60% of all aid to Israel) and $1.2 billion in economic aid annually. In 1998, Benjamin Netanyahu requests to completely eliminate economic aid and receive 100% of the money as military aid. This has been the case ever since.
  • 1999 – Beginning of a ten-year military aid package to Israel at $2.38 billion annually.
  • 2009- A second ten-year agreement was signed for $30 billion of U.S. military grants to Israel until 2018.

Background[2]

  • Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since WWII.
  • Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) encompassing 55% of total U.S. Foreign Military Funding worldwide.
  • Since 1949, the United States has provided Israel $118 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance, out of which $65 billion is in military equipment and arms (55% is military aid).
  • US aid to Israel represents 23-25% of the overall Israeli defense budget.
  • Military aid is not actual cash but rather “vouchers” that can only be spent in the US.
  • Most recipients of US military aid must spend 100% of it in the US. However Israel is permitted to spent 25% if it, about $815.3 million, locally to procure from Israeli manufactures (offshore procurement).

Additional benefits for Israel[3]

  • Israel is the largest single recipient of Excess Defense Articles, a program that funnels inventory of outdated military equipment by providing countries with necessary supplies at either reduced rates or no charge.
  • Schools and hospitals based in Israel have received the most funding in the Middle East region under the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program (ASHA).
  • On top of the $3b given to Israel per year, in 2013 the US. Government allocated an extra $479.736 million in joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs, which include: $211 million for Iron Dome, $149.679 million for David’s Sling, $74.692 million for Arrow III, and $44.365 million for Arrow II.

Benefits and liabilities of aid for Israel – Analysis

  • Aid helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world in an effort to maintain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge over neighboring militaries.
  • American assurance of QME can also be a trap, as in the case of the F35 fighter jet deal. Since the US was not successful in exporting the jet internationally due to its high cost and technical shortcomings, the US was able to “dump” the planes on Israel, saying that if Israel refuses to purchase the planes, the US will no longer take responsibility for ensuring Israel’s QME. Israel’s decision to purchase the jets increased international interest in the jet due to the Israeli military’s status. In this case, QME worked against Israel and for the United States government.
  • Israel’s ability to use a significant portion of its annual military aid for domestic procurement is a unique aspect of its assistance package; no other recipient of U.S. military assistance has been granted this benefit.
  • Between 2008 and 2012, Israel was the 10th largest arms exporter in the world.[4] Israel’s ability to develop and export its technology is in part due to the portion of FMF that it can spend and invest locally.
  • American military collaboration with Israel ensures that Israeli military industries will be called on to develop parts of large-scale US-made warfare technologies that Israel could not afford to finance on its own.[5]
  • The military and economic alliance between Israel and the US helps maintain full US backing of Israel in the UN Security Council, despite the two countries’ disagreements on the issue of the Israeli occupation.[6]

Benefits and liabilities of aid for the United States – Analysis

  • While Israel is the 10th largest military equipment and weapons exporter, the US exports more weapons than the other ten largest weapons exporters combined.
  • The arms industry’s lobbies are among the strongest and wealthiest in America. Companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin are much larger than AIPAC.[7]
  • Through the voucher system, the US uses Israel as a way to use American taxpayer dollars to subsidize US military industries.
  • Aid is part of a package deal in which the U.S. gains important strategic assets in the Middle East: free passage over Israeli airspace, use of departure and fuel bases, free passage through all Israeli sea ports, intelligence sharing, and storage space for missiles, armored vehicles and artillery ammunition.
  • By supporting Israel’s military capabilities, the US is promoting a regional arms race that generates large profits for the American weapon industries. Every Israeli purchase of a tank or jet fuels demand among neighboring countries to make an equal or greater purchase themselves.
  • Over 1000 contractors in 47 U.S. states profit from Israel’s procurement. This ensures secure employment for thousands of workers in the largest weapon corporations, even in times of recession.

What about Human Rights?

  • Given Israel’s poor human rights record, especially regarding treatment of Palestinians under military occupation, the ongoing military assistance to Israel can constitute a violation of US laws and regulations regarding military exports:[8]
  • Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
  • The Leahy Law prohibits the US from providing most forms of security assistance to any military or police unit when there is “credible evidence” that members of the unit are committing gross human rights violations.
  • The Arms Export Control Act stipulates that no credits, guarantees, sales, or deliveries of weapons are to be extended to a foreign country if it is “in substantial violation of the narrowly limited uses of weapons.”[9]
  • In many instances, there is a clear link between Israel’s violations of Palestinians’ right to life and its reliance on US weapons to commit these human rights violations. For example on July 22, 2002, Israel deliberately dropped a one-ton bomb using a U.S. provided F-16 fighter jet on Gaza City that killed 14 Palestinian children and 8 civilians. Further human rights violations include the use of US-manufactured tear gas, rubber coated bullets, white phosphorus, cluster bombs and machinery used to demolish homes.[10]

US-Israel Relations during Operation Protective Edge

Operation Protective Edge was launched on July 8, 2014 and lasted until August 27, 2014.

  • Three weeks into the operation, the Pentagon put a hold on a shipment of Hellfire missiles for apache helicopters as a warning to Israel.[11] According to a Washington official “The president felt that his efforts to achieve a ceasefire [were] being undermined by U.S. weapons deliveries to Israel. Now, nothing moves without his approval, and that means everything will be slowed down.”[12]
  • The hold on the weapons delivery came after the US administration learned that the US had supplied Israel with tank and artillery ammunition on the same day that the Israel Defense Forces struck a UN school.[13]
  • Nevertheless, in response to the American warning about withdrawing military support, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed very confident in the continuation of American support: “The relationship between the US and Israel is stronger than it seems. The US has given us backing to defend ourselves, which we didn’t get in previous operations such as defensive shield in 2002 by other administrations. Obama and his current administration is giving us the backing we need and approved my request for a transfer of 225 million dollars for the iron dome system”.[14]

Why Aid Needs to be Stopped?

  • Military aid to Israel creates a system of co-dependency between the two states.
  • American taxpayers are complicit in sustaining, aiding and delivering more than 670 million weapons and related equipment to Israel. The money spent on Israel could be used to create 500,000 new green jobs each year, to provide healthcare for 24 million Americans each year, to fund 350,000 affordable home vouchers each year, or early reading programs for 900,000 kids each year.[15]
  • Israeli and Palestinian populations become guinea pigs in a weapons testing laboratory, because military weapons and equipment that have been used on a civilian population have a higher market value.
  • The alignment between the large weapons lobby and the pro-Israel lobby in Congress is one of the main obstacles to shifting the political reality for Israelis and Palestinians.

 

[1] http://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[2] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[3] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[4] http://www.sipri.org/googlemaps/2013_of_at_top_20_exp_map.html

[5] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[6] http://idanlandau.com/2010/05/16/end-american-aid/

[7] http://idanlandau.com/2010/05/16/end-american-aid/

[8] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf & http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1497.pdf

[9] http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/012/2009/en/278d5cfc-0b39-4409-bd68-4c6f44d99a64/mde150122009en.pdf

 

[10] http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/state-commission-to-examine-civilian-deaths-in-2002-shahade-assassination-1.229532http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/state-commission-to-examine-civilian-deaths-in-2002-shahade-assassination-1.229532 & http://aidtoisrael.org/article.php?id=3179

[11] http://www.worldtribune.com/2014/08/15/furious-obama-blocked-arms-deliveries-israel-state-dept-approved-july-request/

[12] http://www.worldtribune.com/2014/08/15/furious-obama-blocked-arms-deliveries-israel-state-dept-approved-july-request/

[13] http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/41383-140825-israel-turns-to-new-arms-suppliers-amid-us-doubt

[14] http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politics/.premium-1.2415983

[15] http://aidtoisrael.org/downloads/Policy_Paper_print.pdf