How much money does the US give to Israel, and is there more to come?

Since the Second World War, the US has given more aid to Israel than any other country

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 01 November 2023 06:27 GMT
Related video: Mike Johnson says Congress will pass ‘stand-alone Israel funding bill’ before supporting Ukraine

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Following the attack by Hamas on 7 October, President Joe Biden sent extra military support to Israel, the largest recipient of US foreign aid.

He also sent an emergency budget request to Congress, requesting a national security package of more than $105bn in aid to Israel and Ukraine, as well as funding for the border and other issues. Newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson said he thinks a standalone aid bill – removing the commitment to Ukraine – could pass the House of Representatives sometime this week.

“We’re going to move a stand-alone Israel funding bill this week in the House — I know our colleagues, our Republican colleagues in the Senate, have a similar measure,” Mr Johnson told Fox News on Sunday.

“There are lots of things going on around the world that we have to address, and we will,” he added. “But right now, what’s happening in Israel takes the immediate attention, and I think we’ve got to separate that and get it through.”

More than 8,000 people have now been killed in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has been designated as a terror group by the EU and the US.

The USS Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier was sent to the region as a show of support for the Israelis.

On Monday afternoon, Senator Bernie Sanders, the runner-up in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, wrote on X: “The US provides $3.8 billion a year to Israel. The Biden administration and Congress must make it clear. Israel has the right to defend itself and destroy Hamas terrorism, but it does not have the right to use US dollars to kill thousands of innocent men, women, and children in Gaza.”

More than $260bn since end of Second World War

As of February last year, the US had given Israel $158bn, not adjusted for inflation, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Since the Second World War, the US has given more aid to Israel, which was founded in 1948, than any other country.

Adjusted for inflation, the total US aid to Israel between 1946 and 2023 is estimated to be $260bn, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The second-most aid has gone to Egypt, which has received about $100bn less than Israel.

“At present, almost all US bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance; from 1971 to 2007, Israel also received significant economic assistance,” the CRS report from March this year states.

The US has been closely allied with Israel since its creation, with President Harry Truman becoming the first world leader to recognize the country, and it remains the US’s closest Middle East ally to this day.

In 2021, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international affairs think tank, published an article stating that almost all of the modern-day assistance from the US to Israel is made as weapons grant.

“It also receives $500 million for joint U.S.-Israeli research, development, and deployment of missile defense systems; however, these anti-missile systems almost wholly benefit Israeli military needs,” the authors noted.

Israel receives more US funding than all other countries combined

The Trump administration requested $3.3bn in foreign military financing (FMF) for fiscal year 2021 (1 October to 30 September) for Israel – 59 per cent of the requested global FMF budget, meaning that Israel receives more US funding than all other countries combined.

Under President Barack Obama, the US signed a third decade-long Memorandum of Understanding outlining military aid to Israel, which committed the US to send $38bn from 2019 until 2028.

Congress allocated $3,8bn for Israel for the fiscal year 2023, in addition to $98.58m “for other cooperative defense and nondefense programs,” the CRS report states. The US sent $4.8bn in aid to Israel in 2022.

The US has handed over large parts of its most advanced military technology, such as a number of F-35 fighter jets.

Israel spends nearly double international average on defence

Israel spends nearly double the international average – 4.5 per cent of GDP – on defence and has with US backing become a major arms exporter, with the US buying more than $1.5bn worth of Israeli-made military equipment in 2019, according to the CRS.

The service also notes that US military aid makes up around 16 per cent of the total defence budget of Israel, which came in number eight on the global list of top military spenders compared to GDP last year.

Israel’s top level of spending as part of GDP on the military came in 1975 when the country spent 30.5 per cent on defence. Comparatively, last year Ukraine spent 33.5 per cent of its GDP on defence.

US has given $10bn to establish Iron Dome

The US has given Israel about $10bn to establish the Iron Dome missile defence system, according to US News. 

Israel had the sixth-highest share of citizens in the military in the world in 2020 at 4.4 per cent, compared to the global average of 0.8 per cent.

Between fiscal years 1974 and 2002, Israel was the top recipient of US aid, with either Iraq or Afghanistan being the top recipients between 2003 and 2020. During those 17 years, Israel remained in the top three.

Israel was the top recipient again in 2021, receiving $3.31bn, but amid the Russian invasion, Ukraine took the top spot last year, receiving $12bn to Israel’s $3.18bn for fiscal year 2022.

Preliminary figures reveal that total global US aid for 2022 was at its highest level since 1951 at more than $60bn.

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