Should Israel do without US financial aid?

If Israel could manage without US financial aid, remaining friends while continuing US-Israeli cooperation on all fronts, it would be able to make decisions with only its own needs in mind.

Will Blesch, | updated: 21:08

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With the soon to be announced peace plan coming from the Trump administration, it is imperative that the concept of “less foreign influence” in Israeli politics be advanced.

During the last elections, Zehut may have been the only party in Israel to advocate ending American foreign aid to Israel.

While the elections are clearly over, and Zehut will not be in the next Knesset, its stance for reducing or eliminating American financial aid to Israel is one that should be adopted by the ruling coalition.

Zehut’s platform stated that the party did not see “American aid to the State of Israel as a cardinal guarantee of its security, never to be relinquished.” (1) Moshe Feiglin argued that “The price of this ‘gift’ is too high,” and it is.

According to a 2018 U.S. Congressional Report on U.S. foreign aid to Israel, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7billion (current, or noninflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.” (2)

The most recent bout of funding includes the following:

·         $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing, of which $815.3 million is for off-shore procurement;

·         $705.8 million for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense projects,including $92 million for Iron Dome, $221.5 million for David's Sling, $310 million for Arrow 3, and $82.3 million for Arrow 2;

·         $47.5 million for the U.S.-Israeli anti-tunnel cooperation program;

·         $7.5 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance;

·         $4 million for the establishment of a U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence in energy and water technologies;

·         $2 million for the Israel-U.S. Binational Research & Development Foundation (BIRD) Energy program; and

·         The reauthorization of War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I) program through fiscal year 2019.

“For FY2019, the Trump Administration is requesting $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Israel and $500 million in missile defense aid to mark the first year of the new MOU. The Administration also is seeking $5.5 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) funding for humanitarian migrants to Israel.” (2)

This clearly shows a frightening dependence on America in order to maintain a “qualitative military edge.” It also provides the United States with leverage.


What was it Shakespeare said? “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend”
As long as Israel is deeply indebted to the Americans, the U.S.A. has undue influence on internal matters of security. As long as America (or other nations) dole out funds and Israel accepts them, our leaders’ hands are tied. We cannot make decisions that are solely good for our own nation.

Thus, true sovereignty is at stake.

What was it Shakespeare said?

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend” (3)

The thing here, is that Israel no longer needs America’s aid in the way it once did. While Moshe Feiglin suggested just six years ago that, “American aid ‘is not in our favor, not economically, not militarily, not in any way …’” (4)

His words were echoed by former Defense Minister, Moshe Arens who said of American financial help, “We love to get it, and our finance minister would probably kill me if he heard me say this, but we could get along without it …” (5)

Then there’s the very recent, April 2019 article by Jonathan S. Tobin, in which the editor in chief of the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) wrote, “the political price of accepting U.S. aid remains onerous. It limits Israel’s options and flexibility with respect to defense procurement, especially when it comes to its own industries.

It also creates the impression that Israel is a beggar that requires Washington’s assistance in order to defend itself. That encourages resentment of Israel on the part of Americans who don’t like foreign aid even when, as in Israel’s case, the United States gets a great deal in return.” (6)

Now, although Israel is justly appreciative, consider just how much leverage the United States has over Israel:

·         The immense amount of money Israel receives from the United States

·          President Trump’s decision to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem (long overdue, and in keeping with Congressional thought from many previous administrations), (7)

·         President Trump’s recent decision to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. (8)

Trump’s peace plan is about to be published. While there is no certainty over what it contains, the Jerusalem Post reported that according to a source, it will “include a Palestinian state on 85-90% of the West Bank and the division of Jerusalem.” (9)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated concerning the impending “deal of the century” that, “I hope we won’t have to say no.” (10)

Wonderful sentiments.

However, considering everything above, one has to wonder if Netanyahu or any other Israeli leader “can” say no.

This is an untenable position, and one that must not be allowed to continue.

References:

1)      “Israel's Security and Diplomatic Plan.” Zehut, 26 Mar. 2019, zehut.org.il/israels-security-and-diplomatic-plan/?lang=en#american-aide.
 
2)      Sharp, Jeremy M. U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel. CRS.gov, 2018, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel.

3)      Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet” Act 1, Scene 3 (Taken from a soliloquy by Polonius).

4)      Ahren, Raphael. “Likud MK Feiglin: It's Immoral for Israel to Take US Aid.” The Times of Israel, www.timesofisrael.com/likud-mk-feiglin-its-immoral-for-israel-to-take-us-aid/.

5)      Line, The Media. “Arens: Israel Can Get by without US Security Aid.” Ynetnews, Ynetnews, 19 June 2013, www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4394357,00.html.
 
6)      Tobin, Jonathan S. “The Wrong Debate about American Aid to Israel.” JNS.org, www.jns.org/opinion/the-wrong-debate-about-american-aid-to-israel/.
 
7)      Korte, Gregory. “Trump Will Begin Process to Move U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Officials Say.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 6 Dec. 2017, www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/12/06/trump-move-u-s-embassy-israel-jerusalem/919927001/.

8)      Holland, Steve. “Trump Recognizes Golan Heights as Israeli, Boosting Netanyahu and...” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 26 Mar. 2019, www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel-idUSKCN1R61S6.
 
9)      “Trump Peace Plan: Divide Jerusalem, Palestinian State on 85-90% of W.Bank.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com, 17 Jan. 2019, www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Trump-peace-plan-divided-Jerusalem-Palestinian-state-on-85-90-percent-of-WB-577664.

10)  i24NEWS. i24NEWS, www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/politics/1554668368-netanyahu-to-i24news-i-will-not-remove-a-single-israeli-settler-from-the-w-bank-forcibly-i-m-against-ethnic-cleansing

Will Blesch is a marketing and business growth consultant. He is also a former central council member of the Bayit Yehudi, a resident of the Tel Aviv area, an American immigrant, an author, and an avowed film fanatic.http://www.williamblesch.com
 




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