Israel can rest easy: The spending cuts axe being wielded by US President Donald Trump has so far spared military aid to Israel. Israel is due to receive $3.3 billion under the 2020 budget proposal that the White House sent to Congress yesterday.
The aid to Israel is set out in a memorandum of understanding signed by President Obama in his last year in office.
The relevant clause in the section "Department of State and Other International Programs" of the budget document states: "The Budget fully supports the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding and includes $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing grant assistance to bolster Israel’s capacity to defend itself against threats in the region and maintain its qualitative military edge."
The clause goes on to state: "The Budget also fully supports the U.S.-Jordan Memorandum of Understanding and the U.S. diplomatic and security partnership with Egypt. The Budget includes a Diplomatic Progress Fund, which would allow the United States to incentivize and take advantage of diplomatic openings and opportunities to advance the Nation’s foreign policy priorities as they arise. This Fund provides flexibility to respond to improved engagement from governments for which the Budget has not proposed specific bilateral funding, such as non-security assistance for the West Bank and Gaza, should diplomatic progress be achieved in support of U.S. objectives and regional peace."
Under Department of Defense, the document states: "The Budget also sustains efforts to deter and counter rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran…" but does not provide detail.
The aid package to Israel includes aid for Israel's rocket and missile defense program. In previous years, this aid was granted separately, subject to approval by Congress. Congress tended to raise the originally proposed amount substantially following intense lobbying by the Israeli government and Israeli defense companies. The current memorandum stresses that aid for the rocket and missiles program will be part of general military aid to Israel and that Israel may not ask Congress to increase it.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 12, 2019
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