US Aid to Israel Fact Sheet

Total American aid to Israel since 1949 exceeds $114 billion

In the 2010 fiscal year, the U.S. gave Israel $2.77 billion in Foreign Military Financing funds (FMF), an amount slated to reach $3 billion in 2011.

“Foreign Military Financing refers to congressionally appropriated grants given to foreign governments to finance the purchase of American-made weapons, services and training. The vast majority of these funds goes to Israel and Egypt,” according to the Federation of American Scientists.

At the completion of this 10-year-plan in 2018, the U.S. will have given Israel $30 billion in unconditional military aid. The United States awards this grant in one lump sum, unlike other foreign recipients, which receive their payments in installments. Israel uses the interest it earns on this amount to pay down its debt to the United States, valued at $625 million in August 2010.

Under the terms of the agreement, Israel will be able to spend 26 percent of these U.S. funds on Israeli-manufactured military equipment. This agreement, which is unique only to Israel, has allowed Israel to grow to be the world’s 7th largest exporter of military weaponry and equipment.

Israel also receives aid in other ways such as loan guarantees and reduced cost or free military equipment.

Here is a breakdown of some of the aid Israel receives from the United States:

  • Pending: $205 million in defense assistance to purchase batteries for the missile defense system known as the Iron Dome. The House passed H.R. 5327 in May 2010. The Senate version, S 3451, is waiting for a vote on the Senate floor.
  • $2.75 billion – Israel will purchase 20 F-35s with Foreign Military Financing funds provided by the United States. In addition, under a reciprocal agreement, the U.S. has pledged to spend $4 billion purchasing equipment from Israel’s defense industries.
  • $89 million – The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2009 authorized this amount for the activation and deployment of the X-Ban Radar missile defense warning system. The United States owns and operates this system at a secret location in the Negev, using for the first time U.S. history military personnel and contractors on Israeli soil.
  • $202 million – The amount allocated in the Defense Department budget appropriation for U.S.-Israeli missile defense for FY2010.

Additional grants and loan guarantees:

  • $25 million – The amount the United States gave Israel in 2010 to help Jewish immigrants move to Israel, settle there and learn Hebrew.
  • $460 million – The amount the U.S. State Department’s Migration and Refugee Assistance program gave Israel – through the private charity United Israel Appeal - to resettle Jews in Israel between 1973 and 1991.
  • $9.2 billion – Amount U.S. gave Israel to resettle Soviet Jews between 1972 and 1990.
  • $333 million – Amount of U.S. loan guarantees in 2010 (Israel is legally obligated to use the proceeds of guaranteed loans for refinancing its government debt and not for military purposes. However, Israel’s national budget is fungible, meaning the issuances of U.S.-guaranteed debt that are used to refinance Israeli government debt free up domestic Israeli funds for other uses.)

Israel has not always been an honest foreign aid recipient, breaking both U.S. and international laws by the misuse of American weaponry, espionage and selling sensitive military equipment and knowledge to countries unfriendly to the United States.

Weapons use violations

  • Cluster munitions – In 1982 the Reagan administration found that Israel ‘may’ have violated its 1952 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the U.S. by using U.S.-supplied cluster bombs against civilians in Lebanon.
  • Israel also may have violated several American laws by its use of American-made Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets and other U.S.-produced ammunition on the civilian population of Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, according to a report by the National Lawyers Guild.

Questionable deals

  • In 2000, Israel sought to sell the Airborne Early Warning System to China, which could threaten “the forces of democratic Taiwan and the United States in the region surrounding the Taiwan Straights.”
  • In 2006, Israel froze a $100-million contract with Venezuela to upgrade its U.S. manufactured F-16 fighter jets due to U.S. pressure.
  • In 2009, an Israeli defense company partnering with Swedish manufacturer Saab backed out of a bidding competition to sell Swedish-designed fighter jets to India because U.S. officials worried U.S. technology would be integrated into the jets.

Espionage-related cases

  • Jonathan Pollard, indicted in November 1985 for selling classified documents to Israel. Four Israelis also charged. Pollard was convicted and is serving a life sentence.
  • Lawrence Franklin, indicted June 13, 2005, for the unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to al Qaeda, U.S. policy toward Iran and the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia to a foreign diplomat. 
  • Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, of the AIPAC lobby, were indicted on Aug. 4, 2005, for their part in the Franklin’s espionage. On May 1, 2009, U.S. prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the case because of the likelihood that classified information would be revealed at trial that would damage national security.
  • Ben-Ami Kadish, arrested on April 22, 2008, on suspicion of giving classified information on nuclear weapons to Israel. Kadish pleaded guilty on May 29, 2009, to one count of conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of Israel and was fined $50,000.
  • Stewart Nozette, indicted on Oct. 15, 2009, for allegedly attempting to sell classified information about U.S. satellites, early-warning systems and other systems to the Mossad (Israel’s foreign intelligence and spy agency). Nozette pleaded guilty to a “seemingly unrelated two-count charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States and tax evasion.”

Source: CSR Report for Congress, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel” Sept. 16, 2010; “Israel: Background and U.S. Relations,” Feb. 14, 2011; and “Onslaught: Israel’s Attack on Gaza & the Rule of Law,” National Lawyers Guild

AMP 03/31/11