With more unemployed people than at any time in U.S. history, President Barack Obama will sign Wednesday the most lavish foreign aid package in the country's history, a massive US$38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next 10 years, which adds a significant sum of US$700 million a year to what Washington already pays yearly to Tel Aviv.
The 10-year aid package underpins Washington’s congressionally mandated requirement to help maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region.
The deal, known as a memorandum of understanding, calls for US$3.8 billion a year in aid, up from US$3.1 billion annually under the current pact, which expires in 2018, U.S. officials told Reuters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had originally sought upwards of US$4.5 billion a year.
Aside from the fact that the aid gives Israel a massive advantage over the Palestinians in the decades-long conflict between the two, critics also point to how Washington is willing to spend valuable taxpayers money to aid an already powerful ally instead of dealing with major economic issues at home.
The deal will guarantee foreign aid to the country until 2027, a decade after Obama has left office. Last month journalist Glenn Greenwald writing in for The Intercept noted Israeli living standards already surpass those in the U.S. in some critical areas.
While Israeli citizens enjoy universal health care, 33 million citizens in the United States don’t have coverage, Greenwald notes. Israelis also have a higher life expectancy, 82.27 years, compared to 79.68 years in the U.S. And Israel's infant mortality rate—one of the best indicators of human development—is one of the lowest in the world, at 3.55 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Conversely, in the United States, 5.87 babies die before their first birthday.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last year that the number of U.S. citizens 16 years and older who were not in the workforce eclipsed 93 million people, an all-time high and nearly a third of the total U.S. population of 321 million.
A 2012 Congressional Resources Service report, as reported by The Intercept, found that “U.S. military aid (to Israel]) has helped transform Israel’s Armed Forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.” Despite that aid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly demanded as much as US$5 billion in aid a year.
What's more, he has also opposed U.S. requirements that some of that money is spent with U.S. military contractors rather than Israeli ones. With the U.S. presidential elections just three months away, both political parties are campaigning to restore the once-vaunted middle-class prosperity in the country, but Israeli aid is all-but-sacrosanct in the electoral discourse.
Early in the campaign Trump had suggested that he might not oppose the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israeli-made products—but has since reversed his position.