Is US-Israel aid deal really biggest ever?

US claims it's giving Israel greatest amount of military aid ever, but details of the agreement reveal a more complex picture.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Obama and Netanyahu
Obama and Netanyahu

The US and Israel are set to sign what has been termed the "single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in US history" today (Wednesday), as the Obama administration continues to show its willingness to strongly support Israel in terms of military cooperation even as disagreements on policy between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu persist.

But is the aid deal really the biggest ever?

Ilil Shachar of Galei Tzahal-Army Radio delved into the details of the aid deal and drew the following conclusions.

"This is the biggest aid deal that the US has ever signed, but the actual amount that Israel will be getting every year will not, in fact, be increasing. How so? Very simple. The previous deal - for 3 billion and a hundred million dollars a year - only referred to weapons and offensive equipment, meaning aircraft, bombs, and the like. Whereas for defensive systems, Israel would go to congress every year and get anywhere between 600-800 million dollars a year in addition. The additional money went for things such as missile-defense systems and tunnel warfare equipment.

All this means that the total sum under the old deal stood at 3 billion 900 million dollars a year, more than the yearly totals under the new deal. In addition, inflation means that a given amount of money ten years ago had more buying power than the same amount has today.

"Another point. In the past, Israel was able to use a quarter of the sum given by the US for purchases from Israeli defense industries, and under the new deal, the percentage allocated for such purposes will consistently decrease until it becomes 0 at some point during the next decade. This new deal contains the clear message that the aid is only intended for purchases from US companies, and this will certainly set a precedent for the next few decades.

"In the past few weeks, two battles took place behind the scene, one against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who didn't like the fact that the administration is taking the power to increase the aid budget away from congress. As a result of this, it was Israel who had to commit to refrain from asking congress for more money. The second battle was fought around the question of who will actually sign the deal. Will it be Netanyahu and Obama, or a lower rank? According to our sources, it was actually the Prime Minister's office who didn't want a festive signing ceremony. Maybe Netanyahu doesn't want to give Obama that gift. Maybe he's afraid it will help the democrats win the election. At the end of the day, it was decided that National Security Adviser Yaakov Nagel will be the one to sign."