US aid to Israel - 2015 Fact Sheet

Total American aid to Israel since 1949 exceeds $121 billion (in non-inflation-adjusted dollars).

In 2007, President George Bush and Israel entered into a 10-year Memoradum of Understanding that would give Israel $30 billion in Foreign Military Assitance.

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 $455 million in January 2013. In his March 2013 visit to Israel, President Barack Obama pledged to continue multi-year aid packages to Israel through 2028.

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 is known as Off-Shore Procurement.) 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, refugee resettlement assistance, and reduced cost or free military equipment.

In addition to $3.1 billion per year in Foreign Military Assistance issued through the US Department of State, Israel also receives funds through the Defense Department appropriations bills for missle defense programs, like Iron Dome.  

Here is a breakdown of some of US Aid to Israel:

  • Israel is the largest recipient of US Foreign Military Financing.
  • For FY2015, President Barack Obama’s funding request for Israel would account for more than 55% of FMF worldwide.
  • Annual FMF grants account for up to 25% of Israel’s defense budget.
  • Israel is allowed to use FMF to purchase weapons produced in Israel. No other country receives this benefit.
  • In 2010, the US and Israel agreed to allow Israel tol purchase 19 F-35s at a cost of $2.75 billion. Israel will pay for this entirely using FMF grants supplied by the United States. 
  • Under negotiated agreements, Israel may purchase an additional squadron of F-35s, up to 75 aircraft, costing a total of $15.2 billion.
  • As part of the deal, the U.S. has pledged to spend $4 billion purchasing equipment from Israel’s defense industries.
  • In the summer of 2012, the Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin finalized a $450 million agreement to modify the baseline F-35 model to accommodate electronic warfare and munitions systems for Israel’s future F-35 squadrons.
  • For FY2015, the Administration is requesting $3.1 billion in FMF to Israel and $10 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance. The Missile Defense Agency’s FY2015 request for joint U.S.- Israeli programs is $96.8 million. The Administration also is requesting $175.9 million for Iron Dome.

The US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act

Passed in March 2014, the Strategic Partnership Act will (among other things):

  • Authorize annual funding for a U.S.-based Joint Energy Research Center
  • Authorize $3 million to be spent on research pilot programs between Israel and the Department of Homeland Security
  • Require the Administration to submit biennial reports on maintaining Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge. Current law requires the Administration to report on a quadrennial basis

Israel, not an honest broker

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 2005, because of Israeli plans to sell American information or technology to China, the US suspended Israel from the development of the Joint Strike Fighter and imposed other restrictions on them.
  • 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.
  • In December 2013, the  head of Israel’s Defense Export Control Agency  resigned after a joint US-Israeli investigation concluded that an Israeli miniature cooling system that can be used for missiles, and that had been licensed for sale to a French company, had been retransferred to China.

Espionage-related Cases

  • Jonathan Pollard was indicted in November 1985 for selling classified documents to Israel. Four Israelis also were 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.”

Sources: CSR Report for Congress, "U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel," April 11, 2014;  “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel” April 11, 2013; “Israel: Background and U.S. Relations,” Feb. 14, 2011; and “Onslaught: Israel’s Attack on Gaza & the Rule of Law,” National Lawyers Guild

AMP 03/15/14