Weapons to Israel | IMEU Policy Backgrounder

January 05, 2022
Weapons to Israel | IMEU Policy Backgrounder

Photo credit: U.S. Indo-Pacific Command/Flickr. Creative Commons license.

The United States munificently funds weapons for Israel despite the fact that these weapons are used to enforce Israel’s apartheid rule over the Palestinian people in violation of US laws that are supposed to prevent countries from using US funding to perpetrate human rights abuses. 

  • Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of all combined forms of US foreign funding programs since World War II. According to Congressional Research Service, Israel has received more than $146 billion of US public money in non-inflation adjusted figures.
  • Israel receives more weapons funded with US public money than all other countries in the world combined. According to the FY2022 State Department Congressional Budget Justification, the $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) requested for Israel is 53% of the total FMF budget.
  • Lump-sum payments to Israel make these publicly-funded weapons even more valuable. According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, most countries receive FMF in quarterly installments. Since FY1991, however, Israel has received its FMF allocation in one lump sum, which is deposited in an interest-bearing bank account, making the true amount of weapons available to Israel even greater than the congressional allocation.
  • The US government subsidizes Israel’s military-industrial complex with our public money. Israel is the only country allowed to spend part of its FMF allocation on its own domestic weapons industry. In FY2022, this so-called Offshore Procurement (OSP) provision amounted to subsidizing the Israeli military-industrial complex in the amount of $785 million. While this program is being phased out by FY2028, the United States will still be subsidizing billions of additional dollars to Israeli weapons makers until then.
  • Israel is the only country to receive long-term presidential pledges of US weapons. Since the Clinton administration, the United States and Israel have signed 10-year Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) outlining US pledges of weapons to Israel. The last MOU was signed during the Obama administration in 2016, and committed a record-breaking $38 billion in weapons to Israel. These MOU’s serve as a blank check for Israel, assuring it of long-term US support regardless of its violations of US weapons laws (discussed below) and its violations of international law through the maintenance of an apartheid regime of rule over the Palestinian people. 
  • US weapons transfers to Israel make the United States complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of the Palestinian people. According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, Israel has killed nearly 5,000 Palestinians who took no part in hostilities since September 2000. Many of these killings have been unlawful and some have been flagged by human rights organizations and international investigations as potential war crimes and crimes against humanity. Oftentimes, US weapons--such as fighter jets, attack helicopter gunships, and missiles--have been directly implicated in these killings. In addition, Israel’s injuring of Palestinian civilians, demolition of Palestinian homes and infrastructure, and construction of illegal Jewish-only colonies on stolen Palestinian land are often committed with or facilitated by US weapons and funding.
  • Israel should be ineligible to receive US weapons because of its violations of US weapons laws. Israel is in daily violation of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) because of the fact that it systematically uses US weapons to enforce a belligerent foreign military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The AECA is supposed to limit US weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense” as well as a few other very limited circumstances not applicable to Israel’s military occupation. In addition, the Foreign Assistance Act prohibits any form of US assistance to a country “which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
  • Public money spent by the US government on weapons to Israel could be spent much better on domestic needs. The federal budget is a reflection of our country’s priorities. According to the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, with the money we spend on weapons to the Israeli military every year, we could instead fund the salaries of nearly 47,000 school teachers, or fund 51,000 clean energy jobs, or provide 653,000 students with Pell grants, or provide healthcare to 1.6 million uninsured children, or provide food assistance to 2.5 million people. This map also provides a useful breakdown of these numbers by state and congressional distric

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