New US-Israel Agreement Comes with Tough Conditions
The US and Israel have agreed to a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will provide Israel with $38 billion in foreign aid for Israel for defense spending. (Non-military aid to Israel ended in 2007.) There are two big changes in this MOU, one having to do with Israel’s defense sector and one having to do with missile defense.
In the previous MOU, Israel could spend just over a quarter of American defense aid at home. That is being phased out in the new agreement and Israel will eventually have to spend all of the US aid in the US. This will cost Israeli defense companies up to $10 billion in sales of drones, missiles, tanks, and other equipment, according to Reuters.
The agreement also limits Israel’s ability to lobby Congress for more aid, unless Israel is “at war,” and Israel cannot ask Congress for more aid to develop missile systems, theWashington Post reports. In the past, Congress has appropriated more money for Israel each year than PresidentBarack Obama requested, often to fund joint missile defense programs at a higher level. Iron Dome funding is one example. This year Congress added $42.7 million for technology to detect and destroy Hamas tunnels.
The new agreement’s restriction on Israel’s relationship with Congress is unprecedented. It requires Israel to refuse any additional funds that Congress might appropriate above the $3.8 billion per year. The editors of the Wall Street Journal write:
"The Obama Administration has used various means to usurp Congress’s power of the purse, but twisting the arm of an ally is a new low. That’s what the President in effect did this week by requiring Israel to accept his spending limits in return for a modest boost in military aid… [T]he Administration impelled Israel to agree not to lobby for more aid and to return any funds Congress appropriates in the future that exceed the agreement’s terms… So with one maneuver the Administration has managed to slap Congress and Israel, vindictive to the end."