Senator outraged over handling of $38 billion Israel military aid deal

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham speaking with attendees at the 2015 Iowa Growth & Opportunity Party at the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The United States has agreed to give Israel $3.8 billion dollars in military aid over the next decade- and one US Senator has flown off the handle in the handling of what is now the largest arms aid the US has ever supplied to a foreign nation.

According to the Washington Post, the agreement -while far below the $4-5 billion a year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested- sets a new record in American foreign military aid.

In addition to the staggering monetary sum, the US and Israel have agreed to phase out current aid arrangements that allows Israel to spend 26% of US aid on weapons and defense research, now pushing for that aid to provide goods and services. Israel will also now be limited in their ability to lobby Congress for more aid, unless it is at war. Lastly, the Israelis will no longer as for money to fund their missile defense systems.

However, the process was not a smooth one. When the Obama administration locked horns with Senate Appropriations Subcommittee (Foreign Budget) chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) over the lobbying capabilities, the Senator had less than kind words when it came to the President and his administration.

“The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion,” Graham said. “I said, ‘Tell the administration to go f*** themselves.”

Graham’s fit of rage -which took place last week- put the heat on the negotiations, as he felt the administration was plotting to remove Congressional power in the appropriations process.

“I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill,” Graham said. “We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.”

Former Israeli ambassador Salai Meridor is also disappointed with the measure, despite being in favor of it.

“I don’t measure this relationship by the dollar number and whatever the exact number is. It is a reflection of the great relationship between the state of Israel and America,” he said.

Meridor expressed concern in what seems to be the executive override of legislative power.

“Many of the important initiatives that have cemented the relationship have been the result of Congress’s initiative,” he said. “I think this is an element of the agreement we might all regret in the future.”

Still, the Obama administration wanted to complete the military aid package before the end of the President’s term, to demonstrate their continued support to Israel after making concessions with Iran.

“It’s a good deal for Israel and a good deal for the United States,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “It sends a signal to those in the region that the U.S.-Israel relationship is a bedrock in the Middle East. Whatever difficult relationship exists between the president and the prime minister, at a strategic level, the relationship is better than that. Even if Obama and Netanyahu don’t like each other very much, Israel and the United States are willing to make a commitment to Israel’s security.”

The deal is symbolic in showing that despite the often differing opinions of the current US and Israeli leaders, the partnership is still strong.

“In financial terms, Israel maybe could have gotten more in the summer of 2015 than the summer of 2016,” said David Makovsky, a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “But it’s still an increase. What seems to have driven the idea of coming to closure on this now is that both sides would like to get this done before the election.”

Israel, however, remains concerned with Iran, particularly on their nuclear deal.

“We do not want this to be interpreted as being compensated for a deal we did not consent to,” said Eran Lerman, a former deputy national security adviser to the prime minister. “We know Israel was not alone in the region of feeling worried about the consequences.”

© 2016 Bright Mountain Media, Inc.

All rights reserved. The content of this webpage may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of Bright Mountain Media, Inc. which may be contacted at, ticker BMTM.


Post navigation