Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

New MOU Gives Israel $3.8 Billion per Year, an Increase of $200 Million

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

New MOU Gives Israel $3.8 Billion per Year, an Increase of $200 Million

Article excerpt

U.S. and Israeli negotiators on Sept. 14 signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will give Israel $38 billion per year over 10 years, beginning in FY 2019 (see pp. 10-14). Israel will get $3.3 billion per year in military aid and $500 million per year for its missile defense systems. Under the current MOU, negotiated in 2007, Israel gets $3.1 billion per year in military aid, plus it has been getting about $500 million per year for missile defense systems out of Defense Department appropriations. So the new MOU represents an increase of about $200 million per year. Israel also agreed not to lobby Congress for more aid except during a war, and to phase out the amount of military aid it can use for purchases in Israel instead of the U.S. Currently Israel can use 26.3 percent of its military aid in Israel, a concession granted to no other recipient of U.S. aid.

There have been reports that some Israeli critics of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are disappointed with the deal, saying he made too many concessions and had to accept less than the $4 billion to $5 billion that he wanted. They blame Netanyahu's acrimonious relationship with President Barack Obama for this.

Several members of Congress-especially Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chairman of the Senate foreign aid appropriations subcommittee-were unhappy that the agreement seems to take aid appropriations out of the hands of Congress. Graham said he is "offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process."

The day before the signing of the MOU, the House, in a meaningless symbolic gesture, passed H.Res. 729, introduced in May by leading Israel-firster Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). It urges a quick conclusion of a new, "robust" MOU with Israel. When passed it had 283 co-sponsors, including Ros-Lehtinen.

SOME NEW PRO-ISRAEL MEASURES INTRODUCED

The previously described measures saying that the U.S. should continue to veto any anti-Israel U.N. Security Council resolution have made no progress. However, on Sept. 20 Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced a new one, H.Con.Res. 157. Similarly, the previous bills urging greater U.S.-Israel cooperation have gained no support, but three new ones were introduced. Two of them, both introduced July 14, urge greater U.S.-Israel cybersecurity cooperation: Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) and one co-sponsor introduced H.R. 5843, and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) with two co-sponsors introduced H.R. 5877. The third new measure was H.R. 5989, urging U.S. and Israel space cooperation. It was introduced Sept. 9 by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and 36 co-sponsors.

Most of the previously described measures complaining about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israeli products and companies from the occupied West Bank have made no significant progress. However, the two identical bills to "authorize state and local governments to divest in entities" that engage in BDS activities against Israel have made progress. In the Senate, S. 2531, introduced in February by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), now has 46 co-sponsors, including Kirk. The House bill, H.R. 4514, introduced in February by Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL), now has 165 co-sponsors, including Dold.

CONGRESS VOTES TO OVERRIDE VETO OF ILL-ADVISED BILL AIMED AT SAUDI OFFICIALS

In an unsurprising display of cowardice, both houses of Congress on Sept. 28 overwhelmingly voted to override President Barack Obama's veto of the bill S. 2040, "to deter terrorism and provide justice for victims," that ends the sovereign immunity of states from being sued for supporting terrorist attacks against the U.S. The bill is widely thought to be aimed at Saudi Arabia for allegedly giving support to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attackers, although the 9/11 Commission's report said that the commission "found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded [al-Qaeda]."

Prior to the vote to override the veto, many foreign and defense policy officials and experts expressed concern over the possible negative effects on U. …

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