U.S. foreign aid to Israel: 2012 congressional report
Israel is currently the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II. Although aid to Israel began in 1949 with a $100 million bank loan, large-scale U.S. assistance for Israel increased dramatically throughout the several Arab-Israeli wars in the 1960s and 1970s.
A 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” characterizes the historical financial relationship, types of military spending and current trends.
Among the highlights of the report are:
- To date, the United States has provided Israel $115 billion in bilateral assistance. It is currently the second largest recipient of aid worldwide, with Afghanistan now first.
- The fiscal year 2013 budget request “includes $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing [FMF] for Israel and $15 million for refugee resettlement. Within the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s FY2013 budget request includes $99.8 million in joint U.S.-Israeli co-development for missile defense.”
- “The United States has helped defray the cost of Israel’s domestically-developed short-range anti-rocket system, dubbed ‘Iron Dome.’ Iron Dome is designed to intercept very short-range threats between 2.5 and 45 miles in all weather situations…. It was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Development of Iron Dome began in February 2007. In response to Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel deployed Iron Dome batteries for the first time in April, August, and October 2011 to protect the cities of Ashdod, Beersheba, and Ashkelon. Each battery costs approximately $50 million….”
- “The Iron Dome system is not designed to protect against very short range projectiles due to their abbreviated flight times, leaving towns in the immediate vicinity of the Gaza border — such as Sderot (estimated population: 21,000) — more vulnerable. The Israeli military plans to deploy nine Iron Dome batteries across the country by 2013. It believes it requires a total of between 10-15 batteries to adequately protect most urban areas. Israel is reportedly considering exporting the system to customers in Asia (such as South Korea, Singapore, and India) in order to recoup Iron Dome’s cost.”
- “In August 2008, Israel and the United States officially signed a ‘project agreement’ to co-develop the David’s Sling system. David’s Sling (aka Magic Wand) is a short/medium-range system designed to counter long-range rockets and slower-flying cruise missiles fired at ranges from 40 km to 300 km, such as those possessed by Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as by Syria and Iran…. It is being jointly developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and U.S.-based Raytheon. David’s Sling uses Raytheon’s Stunner missile for interception, and each launcher can hold up to 16 missiles. The system is expected to be operational by the end of 2012.”
- In January 2013, if the provisions in the Budget Control Act of 2011 hold and 8.5% of most discretionary spending is cut, the annual aid to Israel, if not exempted, would be reduced by roughly $263.5 million.
- In 2007, the Bush Administration signed a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package that raises Israel’s annual FMF grant from $2.55 billion to $3.1 billion.
- “The United States and Israel announced in 2010 that Israel will purchase 19 F-35s, the fifth generation stealth aircraft considered to be the most technologically advanced fighter jet ever made, at a cost of $2.75 billion. They will be paid for entirely using FMF grants…. As part of the F-35 deal, the United States agreed to make reciprocal purchases of equipment from Israel’s defense industries estimated at $4 billion.”
- In 2012 Israel’s portion of the total FMF account of the U.S. was 60%. Sixteen separate annual FMF grants to Israel represent 18-22% of the overall Israeli defense budget.
- The value of the U.S. materiel stored in Israel increased to $800 million in 2010 and is expected to rise to $1.2 billion. By agreement, Israel may ask for permission to use these arms and equipment, and the country drew on these reserves in its 2006 conflict with Hezbollah.
- “Over the past several years, the United States has sold Israel several variants of smart, ‘bunkerbuster’ bombs that could be used to strike buried targets, including the GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrator, a 5,000 pound-class smart bomb that can penetrate up to 20 feet of concrete.”
- In non-military aid, between 1973 and 1991, the United States gave $460 million for resettling Jewish refugees in Israel. Annually, this figure has been between $12 million and $80 million.
“The historic political changes occurring in the Arab world and the ongoing security challenges posed by Iran and its allies may affect the U.S.-Israeli aid relationship,” the report notes. “Some U.S. leaders perceive increasing threats to Israel, particularly from Iran and its Lebanese Shiite ally Hezbollah, and therefore may advocate for additional funding for programs such as short and long range missile defense. Others, who may also strongly support Israel’s security, also may see an opportunity for Israel to respond to empowered public opinion in neighboring Arab countries like Egypt through diplomatic means, especially by reenergizing peace initiatives with the Palestinians, and therefore may seek aid packages that offer incentives for this behavior.”
Tags: security, war, Middle East