US Military Support at Debate

Will the US stop its military assistance to Israel?

Published: February 20th 2011
in News » Israel

An Israeli F15

A very complicated issue


Since 1948, the US-Israel relationship has experienced many changes, affected mainly by who was in the US and Israeli administration at the time and the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.


The Yom-Kippur war in 1973 and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty in 1979 created a golden era in the US-Israel relationship. In order to make Israel feel secure, the US supported the tiny Jewish state politically and militarily. Israel relied on the American "umbrella" for decades, and the US gained stability and its strongest ally in one of the world's most unstable regions.


Building a modern IDF


As part of their agreement, the US always made sure that Israel would have the most sophisticated weapons in the region. The US wanted to make sure that in case of unexpected military conflict, Israel would always be ready to response to any attack against her. Israel was the first to receive the F-15 jet fighters in 1977 and later the F-16 I (I for Israel), a tailor made version of the jet fighter for the specific needs of the Israeli Air-Force.


Jet fighters were not the only things. There were weapons, armors, support equipment and many other components that helped Israel keep its armed forces modernized and well equipped.


$3 billion every year


For many years the average American annual assistance to Israel has been $3 billion. Out of this amount $1.8 billion was direct military support and the other $1.2 billion was civilian support.


In 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reached a ten year agreement with the US administration in which the military support to Israel would increase by $60 million every year. During the same period, the civilian support would decrease by $120 million.


In 2008 the agreement was fully implemented and ever since, Israel has been receiving an annual military support of approximately $2.4 billion and no civilian support.


Save $6 billion – says Ron Paul


Israel is not the only Middle Eastern country that receives US military support. Egypt receives $1.5 billion and Jordan and Pakistan are also on the list.


The Republican House of Representatives member Ron Paul has initiated a change in the US foreign military support approach. Ron says that it’s about time the US saves $6 billion, which are much more needed at home amid the economic crisis than buying friends overseas.


If Ron's initiative will get enough momentum it will be the first time in history that the US House of Representatives will vote on this matter. At the moment it looks like Israel still has enough support among Republicans and Democrats which will assure that US military support for Israel will remain.


The impact on Israel


Ron's philosophy "puts on the table" an old debate in Israel.


The pro US military support approach says that the issue is not only money but also morality and demonstrates the US commitment to the State of Israel. The US military support also helps to minimize the huge Israeli defense budget taken from local sources which can then instead support the local economy.


The anti US military support reminds us that Israel is a paying heavy price for that support and that no gift is free. Israel was shelled by Iraqi missiles in the 1991first Gulf War and was forced to do nothing because it was against US interests. The US prevents Israel from selling arms and knowledge to China and India and those are not the only constrain.


Economic aspects


In the 1970s the US military support to Israel was almost 15 per cent of the country's GDP and without it Israel would have collapsed.


Many good things have happened to the Israeli economy in the past 40 years. The GDP is much higher and the current US military support is equivalent to 1 per cent of country’s GDP. If the US military support was to suddenly stop, it would be a lot less difficult for Israel’s economy to adapt to the new situation.




The $2.4 billion US military support to Israel is very important both economically and strategically to the US-Israeli relationship. It has positive aspects for both countries, especially Israel, but it also puts constrains and limits on Israel's ability to maneuver militarily and politically.

Related articles: (IDF, Military, U.S., Israel)

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