Aiding Israel is a Four-Charted Issue for the U.S.

The US has persistently been Israel’s principal partner in the area of defense and foreign aid programs. This assistance has faced increased scrutiny due to Israel’s six-month campaign of attacking Gaza to erase the Palestinian element.

The United States was the first which acknowledge the establishment of Israel pro forma in 1948 and since then for a long time has played an important role in improving the state relations between Israel and the United States. For the last few decades since World War II, Israel has received a total of over 100 billion dollars of American foreign aid. This type of support is due to several reasons- the USA's commitment to Israel’s security, and its strategic location in a volatile part of the world that has implications for the two countries' foreign policy interests.

The two countries are just not party to a mutual assistance treaty; instead, fellow members of the UN, Japan, and also NATO have a mutual assistance treaty with the United States. Nevertheless, Israel is one of the few countries with the status of a “major non-NATO-ally” that has the tremendous advantage of being granted such broad access to the most advanced US military platforms and technologies.

The American people, about half of whom hold positive opinions towards Israel can be seen in the recent polls. However, U.S. military assistance to Israel which has always been a controversial issue, more morphed toward its ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza has been critically scrutinized now and recently. The Israeli police are acting upon the October 7 assault of Palestinian militants who claimed the lives of more than 1,200 Israelis, which was the most horrific attack ever relocated to Israel. where some American legislators along with foreign leaders, the United Nations, human rights, activist groups, and other entities took a stance to protest the sheer size of Israel’s mission to exterminate Hamas. They have been particularly severe on its bombing spree which led to more than thirty-thousand deaths in Palestine — most of whom are civilians.

Does the United States give how many monetary sources to the country of Israel?

Overall since its founding, Israel stands at the head of the queue of various receivers of the U.S. total economic and military aid, with $300 billion (adjusted by inflation) in gratuitous aid. The United States has sent significant foreign aid packages to other Middle Eastern states as Iraq and Egypt but Israel is a place where it shouldn’t be compared.

The United States provided Israel with economic aid with considerable assistance that summed up to about 1.5 billion dollars from 1971 to 2007 but most of the U.S. aid nowadays is used in support of Israeli Defense, the most advanced in the area. The Pentagon has given Israel its nearly $4 billion annual commitment for 2028 on a memorandum of understanding basis, after which US legislators are weighing their options for introducing billions of additional funds to Israel through the war it’s waging against Hamas.

What is the manner Israel utilizes the aid?

A large portion — about $3.3 billion on an annual basis — is allotted as grants under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, such expenditures go exclusively to buy U.S. military hardware and services. Israel has been traditionally allowed to use about half of its FMF funding, not just for buying equipment from Israeli arms suppliers but there is a phase-out due in the next few years. Israel alleges that her 15 percent defense budget is aided by the US, which according to a report. Even others than the United States blockaded Israel buys military equipment through independent purchases.

Moreover, $500 million yearly for Israel and joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs has been set aside, in which the two countries work together on the development, building, and usage of these systems by Israel including the Iron Dome and David’s Layer, and up to Arrow II. Featuring merely Israeli development, Iron Dome became a U.S.-Israeli production in 2014. Raytheon, for instance, has a tradition of manufacturing a Tamir interceptor which Israel’s Iron Dome uses at Raytheon’s Arizona-based facilities.

Is there anything special about the assistance? Or may there be restrictions associated with it?

Likewise, when the United States military supplies are provided to its Israeli-Israeli mate, as to other foreign governments, the latter are similarly subject to the practical application of the existing U.S. law. The United States president is required to give Congress the required figure in dollars of the foreign nation’s purchase of the major weapon system and services before being able to proceed, and Congress if given the period of review. For the US arms sales to Israel (and other close American allies), the diagnosis that triggers a fifteen-day congressional assessment ranges from $25 million to $300 million in the acquisition of the ending articles or services depending on the defense address per service the purchase/acquisition of the defense articles and services.

The members of Congress may enact a joint resolution and stop the process if they see a sale is wrong. In case of extreme urgency when the executive office of the president believes that the situation of our country poses a national security issue, the president has to go around the process of congressional review. President Joe Biden has increased the units of regimes and apartheid even in the Israel case through the expedited exemptions process. However, below-dollar-threshold transactions that have not cleared the congressional endorsement stage do not require authorization or approval by the legislators.

The United States should abstain from legalizing security assistance to any government or group of people who violate human rights on a gross scale just like the Leahy law forbids. On the other hand, in February 2023, the Biden administration stated that it would not give arms to disbursees whose previous actions were such to lead to human rights abuses. Among other legal scholars and critics, such counsel has been given that the US did not apply the Leahy Law as regards Israel as it did in other Middle Eastern country states.

So if any military aid the United States will provide is only for compliance with determined terms and conditions, the U.S. government should be responsible for controlling the way the equipment is used it supplies to the recipient. A case in point is the administration of Ronald Reagan that banned transfers of cluster bombs to Israel for at least six years which happened after it concluded that Israel had used these types of munitions on civilian targets during the invasion of Lebanon in the 1980’s. A not-so-recent illustration comprises the Biden administration’s suspension of the scheduled delivery of U.S.-made combat rifles to Israel in December 2023 due to the suspicion that these weapons would fall into the hands of the settlers in the Westbank.

Israel will be used by U.S. weapons in self-defense only. Apart from that, Biden administration officials declare that they have not restricted Israel about how it will utilize U.S. military weapons but at the same time, they expect that Israel should follow the principles of international law. In February 2024, when the Israel-Hamas war had lasted for four months, President Biden issued a memorandum on national security that obligated recipients of U.S. military aid to give written notes that they would apply the international law regarding handling the received aid and that they would ease access of the U.S. humanitarian assistance to the areas of armed conflict to where the U.S. military aid

What kind of military assistance has the United States given Israel since the October 7 attacks?

For many years, Israel has been using American-made weapons against its enemies including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. Since October 7, the Biden administration allegedly made over one hundred military aid transfers to Israel, of which only two came under the aforementioned congressional review threshold and hence were made public: $250 million. The Israelis are reportedly getting a priority for delivering the strategic stockpile of weapons that have been kept in Israel since the 1980s by the United States. Not long after Hamas’ attack, the United States also consented to rent two Iron Dome missile defense batteries to Israel, which Washington had previously bought from this country.

The extraordinary flow of aid has ranged from tank and artillery ammunition to bombs, rockets, and small arms. In April 2024, the news said that the Biden administration was considering military sales to Israel which were worth more than $18 billion including fifty F-15 fighter aircraft.

What is Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME)?

QME has been a realist plank of the American military aid to Israel for years, and it was codified in the United States Law in 2008 [PDF]. It stipulates the necessity for the U.S. government to ensure that Israel remains “capable of defeating any conceivable conventional military threat from any individual state or any possible coalition of states or from non-state actors while having minimal damage and casualties.” QME is derived from the NATO military planning vis-a-vis a potential conflict with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries during the Cold War.

Under the 2008 law, the US must preserve Israel’s QME by providing that any weapons it provides to the countries in the Middle East halt harming the Israeli qualitative edge. Many times, Israel managed to acquire the same weaponry from different countries, usually through large-scale regional arms supplies, including side-by-side provision assurances. QME has made Israel the leader in the region regarding the most qualified U.S. weapons and platforms of the military service (F-35 stealth fighter planes with fifty units belonging to Israel).

The expeditious question, hence, is what is the cause of the intensified monitoring of U.S. aid to Israel?

Surveys of Americans show a society that is at odds on the matter of military relationships in Israel between young and old people. Older-respondent support for military aid to Israel is the age whom the youngest demographics (age eighteen to twenty-nine) demonstrate the weakest support. The emergence of Hamas’s overnight terror movement on Oct. 7 found Israel enjoying near unanimous Western backing that included allegations of war crimes and massacres of civilians. Nevertheless, the attitude to Israel continues to maintain its support statistically but more than 45% of Americans oppose Israel after discovering further that this campaign has cost civilians in Gaza and the same becomes a factor of the humanitarian crisis which is deteriorating toward hunger according to aid groups.

The Biden administration has expressed support for Israel’s right to self-defense and continues with the so-called military aid, but it and some members of the U.S. Congress have grown more and more critical of Benjamin Netanyahu’s prosecution of the war. In December 2023, when the U.S. Congress considered a bill allocating $14 billion as emergency funding for Israel, Biden cautioned that if Israel would continue with its indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, then it would risk losing its international support. Concurrently, some Democratic lawmakers tried to attach U.S. aid to Israel’s promises of minimizing civilian casualties. In the last weeks, the Biden administration has openly shown its growing discomfort with the Israeli policy when it abstained from voting for a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, and when it requested Israel to do something about the humanitarian crisis in the territory.

The U.S.-Israel relationship was hurt by the rhetoric and policies of Netanyahu’s government before the conflict. These include the plans to curtail the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court and the approval of Jewish settlements in the West Bank — these critics say they violate international law or undermine the prospects for the future Palestinian state. The two-state solution, which the United States has pursued as a foreign policy goal, begins with the Biden Administration. Some U.S. legislators have echoed these charges in the discussion of whether U.S. aid to Israel should be continued during the Gaza war.

In the last few years, there have been numerous U.S. and Israeli experts who are of the view that direct aid to Israel must be assessed as the main reason being it is now a country that is no poorer as it is placed at the fourteenth rank in terms of per capita GDP in the world and one of the most developed counties with one of the best military forces. Contrary to the allocation of immense U.S. aid to Israel in the 1970s during the Cold War when its defense capabilities were not that strong, nowadays’ Israel is in a much better position already due to the efforts made for the establishment of its security, and the modern U.S. aid undeservingly disrupts the relationship between them and affects their respective foreign policies, these critics say. “‘It is time for an establishing of a consensus on the path to phase out the provision of military logistics’ says Steven A. Cook from CFR in 2020,” wrote the author. These conditions are not a punishment but a reflection of the United States' success in achieving its objective. Support is not an entitlement and the US does not believe that occupation serves the interest of Israel.

The same call has been made by Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel as well as the current Distinguished Fellow at the Council Nearby and Foreign Relations (CFR); he has encouraged a cutting if not a complete stop to U.S. aid. “After all, it would be much better if the US-Israel relations were not dependent upon this reliance. Policies that correspond to the 75th anniversary of Israel must be put in place for the country to stand on its own” — which Tlaib expressed on Twitter in June.

On a different note, other scholars believe U.S. AID smothers the Israeli defense industry and the monies are more of guaranteed revenue for the American defense companies

However, some military aid supporters claim that the U.S. is effectively exchanging weapons and money for the collaboration during which defense industries of the United States and Israel cooperate on a long-term basis, which results in both obtaining efficiency in countering common threats in the Middle East, mainly Iran. The U.S. aid is a small but significant part of the U.S. budget, this expenditure remains “vital and cost-effective” for United States national security. In 2021, over 300 Republican lawmakers expressed their gratitude for bipartisan support of the assistance and determined that it shouldn’t be drastically reduced, or conditioned. The termination of American military assistance today would send an undesirable message to all of Israel’s opponents confirming to them that the United States, Israel’s closest ally, is stepping back, therefore the enemies should be more aggressive in launching suicide missions against the Jewish people. As CFR Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams wrote in September 2023, “dollar amount of the article probably would be positioned

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