U.S. Military Aid and the Israel/Palestine Conflict
The U.S. provides Israel $9.8 million* in military aid each day,
Over the last 20 years, the U.S. has slowly phased out economic aid to Israel and gradually replacing it with increased military aid. In September 2016, the United States and Israeli governments signed a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) where the U.S. pledged to give Israel $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in FMF grants plus $5 billion in missile defense) over the course of 10 years (FY2019 to FY2028). This new MOU replaces the current $30 billion 10-year agreement signed by the Bush Administration that will expire in 2018.
Israel is by far the largest recipient of U.S. foreign military aid (see how other nations compare). According to the CRS report, the President's request for Israel for FY 2017 will encompass approximately 54% of total U.S. foreign military financing worldwide. The report continues, " Annual FMF grants to Israel represent approximately 18.5% of the overall Israeli defense budget. Israel’s defense expenditure as a percentage of its Gross Domestic Product (5.4% in 2015) is one of the highest percentages in the world."
Contrary to ordinary U.S. policy, Israel has been and continues to be allowed to use approximately 26% of U.S. military aid to purchase equipment from Israeli manufacturers. According to CRS, “no other recipient of U.S. military assistance has been granted this benefit.”
Thanks in part to this indirect U.S. subsidy, Israel’s arms industry has become one of the strongest in the world. Between 2001 and 2008, Israel was the 7th largest arms supplier to the world, selling $9.9 billion worth of equipment. And it continues to grow stronger. In 2015, Israel sold $5.7 billion in military goods to other countries.
The former assistant Secretary of Defense from 2007 to 2009 asked, "How inexplicable is it that we are competing against the Israelis in the Indian defense procurement market at the same time we are subsidizing the Israeli defense industry?"
A U.S. government source estimates that Israel is using approximately $1.2 billion each year (38.7% of the aid it receives from the U.S.) to "directly support its domestic budget rather than to build on its arsenal of advanced US equipment."
The United States also contributes funds for a joint U.S.-Israeli Missile Defense Program designed to thwart short-range missiles and rockets fired by non-state actors (such as Hamas and Hezbollah) as well as mid- and longer-range ballistic missiles (this refers to Iran and/or Syria's arsenals). Arrow II, Arrow III, David's Sling, and Iron Dome refer to different projects under the umbrella of this Missile Defense program. In 2016, the U.S. spent $487.5 million on these programs and plans to spend between $280 and $601 million in 2017 (depending on Congressional approval).
By all accounts the United States has given more money to Israel than to any other country. The Congressional Research Service’s conservative estimate of total cumulative US aid to Israel from 1949 through 2015 is $127.4 billion (not adjusted for inflation) .
An October 2013 Washington Report article “A Conservative Estimate of Total Direct U.S. Aid to Israel: $130 Billion,” by Shirl McArthur, puts the cumulative total even higher.
According to McArthur, “[T]he indirect or consequential costs to the American taxpayer as a result of Washington’s blind support for Israel exceed by many times the amount of direct U.S. aid to Israel. Some of these ‘indirect or consequential’ costs would include the costs to U.S. manufacturers of the Arab boycott, the costs to U.S. companies and consumers of the Arab oil embargo and consequent soaring oil prices as a result of U.S. support for Israel in the 1973 war, and the costs of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions on Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria. (For a discussion of these larger costs, see ‘The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion,’ by the late Thomas R. Stauffer, June 2003 Washington Report, p. 20.)”
According to the report, the U.S. government has never provided Palestinians with military aid. "The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 4870), which passed the House in June 2014, contained provisions that would prohibit funds made available by the act from being obligated to the PA (§10033) or from being used to transfer weapons to the PA (§10024)." Aid to Palestinians is largely designated for the policing of their own people as well as for humanitarian and development needs. Such funds are only authorized once Congress has received proof that they will be used for "non-lethal assistance." The aid request for FY 2017 is $362.6 million.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided the Palestinian people with some indirect economic assistance through funds distributed to U.S.-based NGOs operating in the West Bank and Gaza. According to the CRS report, "Funds are allocated in this program for projects in sectors such as humanitarian assistance, economic development, democratic reform, improving water access and other infrastructure, health care, education, and vocational training." The program is subject to a vetting process and to yearly audits...
The United States also provides funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), "which provides food, shelter, medical care, and education for many of the original refugees from the 1947-1949 Arab-Israeli war and their families—now comprising approximately 5 million Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza." The amount allocated by the U.S. government for FY 2014 was $250.9 million. (Learn more about Palestinian refugees.)
Palestinian experts say that U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority actually helps Israel maintain it's illegal occupation of Palestinian land. "Security collaboration" between the PA and Israel means that Palestinian police are being outsourced to monitor and respond to Palestinians resisting the Israeli occupation or protesting against Israel's assaults on Gaza.
U.S. aid to the PA also makes it easier and cheaper for Israel to spend its own US aid on security for its Jewish-only settlements built on confiscated Palestinian land, which is also illegal under international law. Recent research has shown that at least 78% of international aid money to the West Bank and Gaza ends up in Israel's economy.
Israel-Palestine Timeline: The human cost of the conflict records photos and information for each person who has been killed in the ongoing violence.
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