On September 13th, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister BRenjamin Netanyahu finalized a deal to give Israel $38 billion over 10 years. In 2007, the two countries signed a deal for the U.S. to send $3 billion a year for ten years to Israel. This deal will expire in 2018. The new deal will start in 2019 and end in 2028.
A lot of negotiation over the past few months went into finalizing the deal. There are a variety of opinions about whether this deal is in Israel’s best interests.
Some Israelis don’t like the idea of receiving aid from the U.S. because there are certain “strings attached” to the funds. Avraham Hermon argued in The Times of Israel this September that the new aid package requires Israel to spend most of the funds inside the U.S., even if Israel could buy better or cheaper weapons or supplies either in Israel or from other countries.
This makes it harder for Israel to develop its own military industry, and Hermon notes that American pressure stopped Israel from building its own fighter jets in the 1980s. Hermon also says that American aid limits Israel’s freedom to defend itself because it allows the U.S. to criticize Israel’s policies and to pressure Israel to change them.
A strong American supporter of Israel, Jeff Jacoby, takes a libertarian position and said that the US should “eliminate” aid to Israel. Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, also believes that US aid will “limit Israel’s freedom to make choices” and adds that Israel’s economy is so good that it doesn’t need American funds.
Many Americans would prefer that the U.S. spend this money on domestic issues, rather than give it to Israel, or to foreign countries in general. A survey of 1005 Americans conducted by Google Consumer Surveys reports that 80.8% of the people surveyed thought that the money Israel is receiving in this deal should be “redirected” to other needs and stay within the U.S. 20.7% said it should go to veterans, 20.1% wanted it to go to education, and 19.3% would rather the money go to pay down the national debt of $19.5 trillion.
On the other hand, there are ways that the agreement benefits the U.S. For example, the agreement requires Israel to spend much of this money in the U.S. by purchasing US fighter planes and other military equipment, which can help the American economy. A Fortune magazine article on the recent deal explains that currently, Israel is allowed to spend about 26.3 percent of American funds on Israeli-made military goods. The new agreement requires Israel to phase this out and spend more funds on American-made military equipment.
Opposing views aside, this deal is very important for Israel and its safety. With a new influx of money, Israel will be able to build and buy more effective weapons and make other technological advances. Israel will also be given an additional $500 million strictly for better missile development.
Susan Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, said in support of the deal that it is “not just good for Israel, it’s good for the United States. Our security is linked. When allies and partners like Israel are more secure, the United States is more secure.”
Not only does the Israel deal hold significance in relation to Israel and America but it also is important for the rest of the world. By making this defense agreement with Israel, America is sending a strong message to Israel’s enemies that it stands behind Israel. It shows the unparalleled union between the two countries that no other nations have.