Monday, April 23, 2018

Aid to Israel - A Washington Pastime

Some months back, I posted an article on how Israel influences America's federal political theatre through the use pro-Israel "industry" which includes a number of lobbyists and individuals who donate to election candidates of their choice. As a reminder and for your information if you missed the posting, here is a list of lobbyists who were active on the pro-Israel file during 2017:

Here is a graphic that shows how much was spent by the pro-Israel lobby over the past two decades:

...and here is a table showing how much the pro-Israel lobby spent on lobbying on behalf of the Netanyahu government during 2017:

Other than gaining the unconditional love of Washington, what has been the result of Israel's efforts to sway the opinion of those that American voters elect?  A recent publication by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service provides us with a detailed examination of America's aid to Israel. 

The author of the report, Jeremey M. Sharp, notes that Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since the end of World War II, receiving $134.7 billion (in current, non-inflation adjusted dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding.  It is important to note that a very significant portion of America's aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, something that must make U.S. defense contractors extremely happy since U.S. aid to Israel is put directly into their "corporate pockets".

Here is a table showing the total U.S. foreign aid to Israel from 1946 to 2017:

It is this military aid that has allowed Israel to develop one of the most sophisticated militaries globally with America's aim to allow Israel to maintain a "qualitative military edge" or QME over its neighbours, allowing Israel, with its smaller land mass and population", to maintain an advantage over its Arab adversaries.  QME harkens back to the Cold War era where, in Europe, the United States was competing with a much larger Warsaw Pact military machine, stressing the need for technological superiority.  This concept was then applied to Israel with respect to the Arab nations surrounding it.  This is very clearly stated in S.2165 aka "United States - Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012" from the 112th Congress which states the following:

"United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 - (Sec. 3) States that it is U.S. policy to: (1) reaffirm the commitment to Israel's security as a Jewish state, (2) support Israel's right to self-defense and help Israel preserve its qualitative military edge, (3) expand military and civilian cooperation, (4) assist in a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security, and (5) veto any one-sided anti-Israel U.N. Security Council resolutions.

(Sec. 4) Expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should take specified actions to assist in Israel's defense, including: (1) enhancing development and production of joint missile defense systems, (2) providing appropriate defense articles and services, (3) strengthening security initiatives and bilateral training exercises, and (4) encouraging an expanded role for Israel with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)....

(Sec. 6) Directs the President to submit reports to Congress regarding: (1) the status of Israel's qualitative military edge; (2) actions that could improve the process related to Israel's purchase of F-35 aircraft; (3) cooperation between the United States and Israel in homeland security, counter-terrorism, maritime security, energy, cyber-security, and other related areas; and (4) actions to integrate Israel into the defense of the Eastern Mediterranean."

Since 1999, U.S. assistance to Israel has been outlined in ten year-long intergovernmental Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs).  Since MOUs are not legally binding, they do not require concurrence from the Senate.  Here is a graphic showing how U.S. military aid to Israel has grown over the decades:

On September 14, 2016, a new MOU was signed between Israel and the United States covering the period between fiscal 2019 and 2028 with the U.S. pledging $38 billion in military aid.  This is up from the current MOU which provided total aid of $30 billion between fiscal 2009 and 2018.  Under the new MOU, the Administration will request $500 million in annual combined funding for missile defense programs that are shared between the two nations including Iron Dome, David's Sling, Arrow II and Arrow III.  

A great deal of aid to Israel is in the form of Foreign Military Financing (FMF).  Israel gets the lion's share of total U.S. worldwide FMF funding, receiving 61 percent of all requested funding.  Annual FMF grants to Israel represent 19 percent of the overall Israeli defense budget, allowing Israel to have one of the highest defense expenditure as a percentage of GDP ratios in the world:

Interestingly, Congress has mandated that Israel receive its Foreign Military Financing in a lump sum during the first month of the fiscal year; once disbursed, Israel's military aid is transferred to an interest-bearing account at the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank.  Israel uses the interest collected on its military aid to pay down its bilateral debt to U.S. government agencies which totalled $148.8 million in December 2015.

The much-beleaguered F-35 is one of the key components of military trade between the two nations.  Israel has purchased the following F-35s with the option to purchase up to 75 aircraft:

...and will install its homegrown C4 systems in their F-35s.  As part of the F-35 deal, the United States agreed to make reciprocal purchases of Israeli-made equipment manufactured by Israeli defense companies.  

Not only is Israel benefitting from the latest in U.S. military technology, Israel is eligible to receive outdated American military equipment under the Excess Defense Articles program; between 2007 and 2017, Israel received a total of $374.399 million (in current value dollars) worth of equipment at reduced or no charge.

Let's close by looking at a key component of Israel's defense, its multi-faceted missile defense system.  Here is a graphic showing the history of how much was requested for Israel's missile defense and how much Congress increased that amount by between fiscal 2010 and 2017:

To date, the United States has contributed the following to Israel's missile defense:

Iron Dome - $1.397 billion

David's Sling - $1.39 billion

Arrow, Arrow II and Arrow III - $2.914 billion

Here is a summary table showing the annual defense budget appropriations for the U.S. - Israeli missile defense system between fiscal 2006 and 2019 (request):

As though all of this isn't enough, in 1989, the United States military also established munitions stockpiles in Israel for use by the United States and, and with permission, by Israel in emergency situations.  The War Reserves Stock Allies - Israel (WRSA - I) program does not require 60-day congressional notification and there is no waiting time for delivery.  These weapon stockpiles were used during the July 2014 military operations in Gaza when Israel used 120 mm tank rounds and 40 mm illumination rounds fired from grenade launchers.  The current value of U.S. materiel stored in Israel under WRSA - I stands at $2.2 billion.

As you can see, the pro-Israel lobby has been very successful at getting Washington to see things its way.  There is no doubt that the military aid given to Israel has tipped the delicate Middle East balance in Israel's favour.  It is also interesting to see how U.S. taxpayers' generosity is, once again, funnelled directly into the pockets of the defense industry who no doubt play a key role in Washington's unfettered beneficence towards Israel.

No comments:

Post a Comment