Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Israel Gives Up Little to Get Largest Ever U.S. Arms Deal

The new U.S. aid deal for Israel is the largest military aid package to any country in the history of U.S. security assistance, providing Israel $38 billion over ten years starting in 2019.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lobelog

Despite the tensions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the United States and Israel have finally signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). After pushing off negotiations until the Iran deal concluded, Netanyahu has “settled” for the largest military aid package to any country in the history of U.S. security assistance. The deal will provide Israel $38 billion over ten years starting in 2019. Although the record deal does contain some significant Israeli concessions compared to the last agreement, little is likely to change.

Early in the negotiations, Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly wanted as much as $45 billion from this new MoU, but the U.S. administration was unwilling to budge and secured the $38 billion deal instead. This will not make Israel the largest annual recipient of U.S. security aid, but it will be the largest guaranteed package in history with an additional $8 billion from the previous memorandum.

The additional billions, though, come with a cost. First, the United States is going to gradually phase out the unique offshore procurement policy. Since 1984 Israel has been able to spend up to 26.3 percent of the aid package on research, development, and procurement for its domestic arms industry. Israel had been the only country allowed this enormous privilege, but the administration feels its defense industry is now strong enough to support its domestic industry without U.S. assistance. As a result of the policy phase-out, Israel’s industry will lose out on nearly one billion dollars in annual sales.

Despite the concern expressed by some, Israel’s industry seems to be doing quite well. Over the course of President Obama’s two terms, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) ranks Israel as the tenth largest exporter of arms in the world with a majority of those sales in sensors for intelligence and surveillance, missiles, and aircraft. Leading recipients include India, Turkey, and Colombia. Recent sales have also included drones to Russia and surveillance equipment to South Sudan.

Maybe even more important though, the administration has received an agreement from Israel to not request more U.S. security aid than the amount allotted in the MoU. Haaretz’ Barak Ravid reported that the restriction does not, however, include cyber defense systems, combating tunnels, and emergencies.

For over two decades, Congress has provided millions in aid per year through the Defense Department’s budget in addition to the MoU packages funded through the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program. Since FY2000 Congress, on an ad hoc basis, has allocated $4.5 billion for research, development, and procurement in missile defense, all in addition to the $45 billion funded by the State Department package. The new agreement would include $500 million annually for missile defense compared to the 140 percent fluctuation Israel received in missile defense from FY2012 to FY2014.

The administration’s attempt to standardize assistance to Israel instead of the annual haphazard defense appropriations process not only helps U.S. and Israeli officials better prepare security cooperation strategy but also helps U.S. arms manufacturers know what will be in the pipeline.

The feasibility of including all aid in the MoU though, remains in question. According to Josh Rogin of The Washington Post, Senator Lindsay Graham has already pushed back. Graham opined: “I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill. We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.” This means the next administration will have a choice on whether to uphold this part of the agreement if Congress decides to allocate additional funds for Israel outside of the MoU.

The move to incorporate missile defense into the MoU and eliminate offshore procurement raises questions about how Israel will pay for co-production missile defense systems like the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow. Israeli companies Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries produce these systems with Boeing and Raytheon. Under the old MoU, the 26.3 percent didn’t include the DoD-funded missile defense. Would U.S. aid now only cover the costs of U.S. manufacturers of this research and procurement? That seems highly unlikely. Despite the gradual annual reduction of offshore procurement, parts of Israel’s defense industry should be secure over the next decade.

The new aid package’s inclusion of Israeli missile defense systems means that over the course of the next 10 years, the overall amount of U.S. security aid to Israel isn’t actually increasing that much. In fact, since FY2014 Israel has averaged $3.7 billion per year in total security aid. So it will be just a slight increase over the next decade. That of course is contingent on Congress not providing additional funds for Israel. And if Senator Graham’s remarks, the near unanimous $225 million in additional Iron Dome funding provided during the latest war with Hamas in 2014, and Haaretz reporting is any indication, more funding is almost certainly to be provided.

Ultimately, the new memorandum, despite its changes, rewards an Israeli government with billions of dollars in aid for the latest arms technology including the new F-35 fighter jet, which no other country in the Middle East can acquire. This agreement demonstrates that the relationship between the two countries is stronger than the animosity between the two leaders. But it won’t move the nearly 70-year-old Arab-Israeli conflict any closer to a peaceful solution.

Seth Binder is the program manager and research associate at the Center for International Policy for the Security Assistance Monitor program and covers the Middle East and North Africa. He is the co-author of “The Moroccan Spring and King Mohammed VI’s Economic Policy Agenda: Evaluating the First Dozen Years,” a chapter in The Birth of the Arab Citizen and the Changing of the Middle East.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share