A) The nature of US foreign aid to Israel
A1. Constitutes 30% of the total US foreign aid budget, which renders Israel to be the largest recipient of US aid in the world
Since 1987, the US congress has annually been approving a foreign aid bill totaling an average of $3 billion to Israel, $1.2 billion in economical aid, and $1.8 billion in military aid.
After the gulf war in 1991, the US has additionally been offering Israel $2 billion annually in federal loan guarantees, which brings the total US foreign aid to Israel to about $5 billion, or $13.7 million per day. This amount excludes the approximate $1.5 billion in total tax-deductible private donations from numerous Jewish charities and individual donors.
All in all, this is the largest amount of foreign aid given to a country, and constitutes 30% of the total amount of US foreign aid budget.
A2. Started in 1948 and gradually increased over the years
Soon after the Truman decision in 1948 to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, the US Congress approved an aid package in the form of a $135 million Export-Import Bank loan in order to take in holocaust survivors and provide them with homes.
Until 1973, aid was mainly made up of military, economic and export-import bank loans, although annual economic grants ranging between $0.1 and $74 million were also offered between the years 1951 and 1962.
After the 1973 war, the US aid to Israel constituted largely of military and economic grants to help strengthen the Israeli defense forces. This included $12-80 million, which was annually granted towards the establishment of Jewish refugee camps.
This TABLE shows the history of US financial assistance to Israel, as documented by the Jewish Virtual Library. Notice the pattern of increased assistance over the years for economic, military and Jewish refugee grants, especially after 1973. This pattern reflects the US interests (section A3) in empowering Israel as the only democratic, close ally in the region, and not for the pure intent to assist a developing country.
A3. Promotes American interests in the Middle East
The US funding to Israel acts as the backbone for the strategic partnership between both countries. By advancing Israel's technological and military powers, the US is able to share intelligence information regarding Arab militant groups, like Hizbullah, as well as information regarding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Three quarters of the military aid to Israel goes for importing US-made military equipment such as F-16 and Apache attack helicopters. This creates a job market for US citizens and transforms Palestine into a test ground for US made weaponry, used daily against Palestinians.
Israel has cooperated with the US arms industry to develop more effective military equipment at affordable costs to the US. About one quarter of the military aid to Israel is contributed towards military research and development, where several innovative jet fighters, missiles and navigating and targeting devices have been manufactured and sold back to the US. Examples are the ITALD, Litening, Popeye and the UAV.
A4. Proposed by Israel in 1998 to be reduced in an effort to establish an economically independent country
In 1998, according to an agreement with the Clinton Administration and Congress, Israel voluntarily requested to decrease its financial dependence on US economic aid by phasing it out over a period of 10 years.
The $1.2 billion in economic aid will be reduced by $120 million each year until it is down to zero in the year 2008. This will help Israel to become an economically independent country.
However, 50% of the savings (i.e. $60 million) each year will be added to an emergency military aid fund to Israel. This demonstrates the US's persistence and commitment to help Israel gain control of the region.
B) The controversy for US foreign aid to Israel
B1. Granted in disproportion to Israel's size and needs
Israel is an economically, technologically, and militarily advanced country, with a per capita rate of $14,000, which is higher that that of all neighboring Arab countries, including the oil-rich Saudi Arabia. It is ranked as the world's sixteenth wealthiest country, yet the US aid to Israel constitutes 30% of the total US foreign aid budget.
Israeli population is 5.8 million, which only constitutes one thousandth of the world's total population. Between the years 1949 and 1998, the US has provided a total of $84 billion in aid to Israel, which exceeds that given to all countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined, with a total population of about 1.054 billion people.
B2. Promotes the illegal occupation of Palestinian land in order to establish settlements for Jewish refugees
A portion of US foreign aid to Israel, which has increased in the past decade to $80 million annually, goes into building settlements for Jewish immigrants. This occurs by the illegal confiscation of Palestinian land and home demolition to allow for space. Jewish settlements surround every single Palestinian city in the West Bank, and their rapid construction since 1973 has prevented the creation of a feasible Palestinian State.
Jewish settlements are built on confiscated Palestinian land to accommodate Jewish immigrants from all over the world, based on the Israeli Law of Return. These immigrants are guaranteed the right to Israeli citizenship, free Hebrew learning, and immediate employment. On the other hand, Palestinian refugees who were forced to flee their homes in 1948 and 1967 are forbidden from returning to their towns of origin.
B3. Transforms Palestine into a military test ground
Seventy five percent of US military aid to Israel goes into purchasing US-made military equipment, such as tanks, machine guns, bullets, helicopter gunships, and more. The US depends on Israel to test new military technologies in war conditions. For example, uranium-depleted ammunition has been fired at civilians in Palestine.
B4. Violates US Law and abuses human rights
The Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of the United States, which provides guidelines for the eligibility of certain countries to purchase US-made weapons and military equipment, states in section 116 that "No assistance may be provided under this part to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." However, Israeli army engages daily in degrading and inhumane treatments towards Palestinians, such as prolonged detention without charges, strip searches at checkpoints, beatings, torture, and home demolitions. According to Amnesty International, Israel is the only country that legalizes torture.
Similarly, section 4 of the Arms Export control Act prevents the US government from selling defense articles to countries that abuse their use for non-self-defense purposes. In 2001, the US State Department described the actions of Israeli army against Palestinians as an "excessive use of force," referring to the use of live ammunition when soldiers were not in a pending danger. This clearly shows that the US does not agree with the way these weapons are being used against Palestinians, yet the US military aid to Israel continues consistently as agreed between both countries.
Global Exchange, http://www.globalexchange.org/
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, http://www.aipac.org/
The Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/
The Palestine monitor, http://www.palestinemonitor.org/