Order Code RL33222
U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel
Updated January 2, 2008
Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel
This report provides an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to Israel. It includes
a review of past aid programs, data on annual assistance, and an analysis of current
issues. The report will be updated annually to reflect developments over the previous
year. For the most recent action on aid to Israel, see CRS Report RL33476, Israel:
Background and Relations with the United States, by Carol Migdalovitz. For
information on overall U.S. assistance to the Middle East, see CRS Report RL32260,
U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends,
and the FY2008 Request, by Jeremy M. Sharp.
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World
War II. From 1976-2004, Israel was the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign
assistance, having recently been supplanted by Iraq. Since 1985, the United States has
provided nearly $3 billion in grants annually to Israel.
Over the years, Israel has developed an advanced industrial economy which,
according to the World Bank, places it among the top 50 richest nations in terms of
per capita income (between Cyprus and Slovenia respectively). With Israel becoming
more economically self-sufficient, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu told a joint session of Congress in 1996 that Israel’s need for economic
aid would be reduced over time. In 1998, Israel proposed gradually eliminating the
$1.2 billion economic aid and increasing the $1.8 billion in military aid by $60
million per year over a 10-year period beginning in the year 2000. Subsequent
appropriations for Israel included cuts of approximately $120 million in economic
aid and increases of $60 million in military aid each fiscal year.
Strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel’s receiving benefits
that may not be available to other countries. For example, Israel can use U.S. military
assistance both for research and development in the United States and for military
purchases from Israeli manufacturers. In addition, all U.S. foreign assistance
earmarked for Israel is delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year. Most other
recipients normally receive their aid in installments. Congress also appropriates funds
for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs.
In August 2007, the Bush Administration announced that it would increase U.S.
military assistance to Israel by $6 billion over the next decade. The agreement calls
for incremental annual increases in FMF to Israel, reaching $3 .1 billion a year in the
near future. The Administration has requested $2. 4 billion in military assistance and
no economic aid for Israel in FY2008. H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations
Act, 2008 provides the full Administration request.
U.S.-Israeli Relations and the Role of Foreign Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
A New 10-Year Military Aid Agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
U.S. Bilateral Military Aid to Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Early Transfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
FMF for in-Country Purchase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Recent U.S. Military Sales to Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Defense Budget Appropriations for U.S.-Israeli Missile Defense Programs . . . . . 5
Multi-Layered Missile Defense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
David’s Sling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
The Arrow and Arrow II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
A High Altitude Missile Defense System? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Aid Restrictions and Possible Violations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Cluster Munitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Israeli Arms Sales to China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Israeli Settlements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Other Ongoing Assistance and Cooperative Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Migration & Refugee Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Loan Guarantees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Loan Guarantees for Economic Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
American Schools and Hospitals Abroad Program (ASHA) . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
U.S.-Israeli Scientific & Business Cooperation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Historical Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
1948-1970 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
1970-Present . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Emergency Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Using Aid to Support the Peace Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Appendix: Recent Aid to Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
List of Tables
Table 1. Defense Budget Appropriations for U.S.-Israeli Missile Defense:
FY2006-FY2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Table 3. Loan Guarantees for Economic Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Table 4. ASHA Program Grants to Israeli Institutions, FY2000-FY2005 . . . . . 13
Table 5. Recent U.S. Aid to Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Table 6. U.S. Assistance to Israel, FY1949-FY1996 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel
U.S.-Israeli Relations and the Role of Foreign Aid
For decades, the United States and Israel have maintained strong bilateral
relations based on a number of factors, including strong domestic U.S. support for
Israel; shared strategic goals in the Middle East (concern over Iran, Syria, Islamic
extremism); shared democratic values; and historic ties dating back to U.S. support
for the creation of Israel in 1948. U.S. economic and military aid has been a major
component in cementing and reinforcing these ties. Although there have been
occasional differences over Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
(prior to the 2005 disengagement) and Israeli arms sales to China, successive
Administrations and many lawmakers have long considered Israel to be a reliable
partner in the region, and U.S. aid packages for Israel have reflected this sentiment.
U.S. military aid has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most
technologically sophisticated militaries in the world. U.S. military aid for Israel has
been designed to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge over neighboring militaries, since
Israel must rely on better equipment and training to compensate for a manpower
deficit in any potential regional conflict. U.S. military aid, a portion of which may
be spent on procurement from Israeli defense companies, also has helped Israel to
build a domestic defense industry, which ranks as one of the top ten suppliers of arms
For many years, U.S. economic aid helped subsidize a lackluster Israeli
economy, though since the rapid expansion of Israel’s hi-tech sector in the 1990s
(sparked partially by U.S.-Israeli scientific cooperation), Israel is now considered a
fully industrialized nation with an economy on par with some Western European
countries. Consequently, Israel and the United States agreed to gradually phase out
grant economic aid to Israel. In FY2008, Israel will no longer receive bilateral
Economic Support Fund (ESF) grants. It had been a large-scale recipient of grant
ESF assistance since 1971.
The use of foreign aid to help accelerate the Middle East peace process has had
mixed results. The promise of U.S. assistance to Israel and Egypt during peace
negotiations in the late 1970s enabled both countries to take the risks needed for
peace, and may have helped convince them that the United States was committed to
supporting their peace efforts. Promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace has proven to be
a far greater challenge for U.S. policy makers, as most analysts consider foreign aid
to be tangential in solving complex territorial issues and overcoming deeply rooted
mistrust sown over decades.
Critics of U.S. aid policy, particularly some in the Middle East, argue that U.S.
foreign aid exacerbates tensions in the region. Many Arab commentators insist that
U.S. assistance to Israel indirectly causes suffering to Palestinians by supporting
Israeli arms purchases. In the past, the United States reduced loan guarantees to Israel
in opposition to continued settlement building, but it has not acted to cut Israel’s
military or economic grant aid.
A New 10-Year Military Aid Agreement
In August 2007, the Bush Administration announced that it would increase U.S.
military assistance to Israel by $6 billion over the next decade. For FY2008, Israel
is receiving $2.4 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF). The agreement calls
for incremental annual increases in FMF to Israel, reaching $3.1 billion a year by
FY2018.1 Egypt, traditionally the second largest recipient of U.S. aid in the Middle
East, will receive no corresponding increase in U.S. military assistance over the same
ten-year period. Military analysts speculate that the increase in U.S. assistance will
facilitate potential Israeli purchases of the most sophisticated U.S. equipment,
including a possible sale of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).2 Under the terms of
the agreement, Israel will still be able to spend 26% of U.S. assistance on Israelimanufactured equipment. According to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Nicholas Burns, who signed the Memorandum of Understanding on U.S. Military
We consider this 30 billion dollars in assistance to Israel to be an investment in peace in long-term peace. Peace will not be made without strength. Peace will not be made
without Israel being strong in the future. Of course, our objective as a country and our
specific objective as a government is to contribute to that peace, a peace between Israel
and the Palestinian people, the creation of an independent Palestinian state willing to live
side by side in peace with Israel, and a general peace in the region that has eluded the
Israeli people for 59 years but which is, we hope, the destiny of the Israeli people as well
as the Arab peoples of the region. Our policy in this entire region is dedicated to that final
The Administration timed the announcement of the new ten-year aid agreement
to coincide with a separate deal to sell additional sophisticated weaponry to Saudi
Arabia and other Gulf countries. Since then, U.S. officials have repeatedly stressed
that U.S. policy toward Israel is based on maintaining Israel’s qualitative military
edge over its Arab neighbors. Nevertheless, there is some concern in Congress over
During negotiations over the new aid agreement, Israel had wanted a larger portion of FMF
up front. The Administration insisted, however, that because there was limited additional
funding in the foreign aid budget for large increases in military assistance, the United States
lacked the fiscal flexibility to dramatically increase Israel’s aid all at once. Ultimately, the
Administration’s incremental approach won out.
In October 2007, the Jerusalem Post reported that the United States had agreed to supply
the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Israel as early as 2012. According to one anonymous defense
official quoted in the report, “This plane can fly into downtown Tehran without anyone even
knowing about it since it can't be detected on radar.” See, “Israel could get U.S.-made F-35
jets by 2012: Report,” Reuters, October 25, 2007.
R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, “Remarks and Press
Availability at Signing Ceremony for Memorandum of Understanding on U.S. Military
Assistance,” Released by the American Embassy Tel Aviv – Press Section, August 16,
the possible sale to Saudi Arabia of precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions
(JDAM), which were sold to Israel in 2007. Israel historically has opposed U.S. arms
sales to Saudi Arabia; however, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed some
support for the Saudi arms deal when he remarked in July 2007, “We understand the
need of the United States to support the Arab moderate states and there is a need for
a united front between the U.S. and us regarding Iran.”
U.S. Bilateral Military Aid to Israel
Foreign Military Financing (FMF)
Overview. Congress has taken measures to strengthen Israel’s security and
maintain its “qualitative military edge” over neighboring militaries. Annual Foreign
Military Financing (FMF) grants to Israel represent over 20% of the overall Israeli
defense budget, and FMF levels are expected to increase incrementally from a
baseline of $2.4 billion in FY2008 to approximately $3.1 billion over the next several
Early Transfer. Congress has mandated that Israel receive its FMF aid in a
lump sum during the first month of the fiscal year. Once disbursed, Israel’s military
aid is transferred to an interest bearing account with the Federal Reserve Bank. Israel
has used interest collected on its military aid to pay down its debt (non-guaranteed)
to the United States, which, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, stood at $1.2
billion as of December 2005.4 Israel cannot use accrued interest for defense
procurement inside Israel.
FMF for in-Country Purchase. Most analysts consider Israel’s ability to use
a significant portion of its annual military aid for procurement spending in Israel to
be a valuable aspect of its assistance package; no other recipient of U.S. military
assistance has been granted this benefit.5 The proceeds to Israeli defense firms from
purchases with U.S. funds have allowed the Israeli defense industry to achieve
necessary economies of scale and produce highly sophisticated equipment for niche
markets. Defense experts note that high annual amounts of U.S. military assistance
force private and semi-private Israeli defense companies to place a greater business
emphasis on exports, since a large portion of Israeli government weapons
U.S. Department of Treasury Foreign Credit Reporting System, 2005.
Israel was first granted FMF for use in Israel in 1977, when it asked for and received
permission to use $107 million in FY1977 FMF funds to develop the Merkava tank
(prototype completed in 1975 and added to Israeli arsenal in 1979). Several years later,
Israel asked for a similar waiver to develop the Lavi ground-attack aircraft, and Congress
responded with legislation allowing Israel to spend $250 million of FMF in Israel to develop
the Lavi. It was estimated that the United States provided between $1.3 and $1.8 billion in
Lavi development costs before the United States and Israel agreed to terminate the project
in 1988. In order to defray the cancellation costs of the Lavi program, the United States
agreed to raise the FMF earmark for procurement in Israel to $400 million. For background
on the cancellation of the Lavi fighter, see Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, Friends in Deed:
Inside the U.S.-Israeli Alliance, New York: Hyperion, 1994, pp. 263-268.
procurement is spent on American equipment. According to Beth McCormick, acting
director of the U.S. Defense Technology Security Administration, Israeli
manufacturers must sell as much as 75% of their output abroad to stay profitable, a
far higher share than U.S. military contractors.6 Successive Administrations and
many lawmakers believe that a strong domestic Israeli defense industry is crucial to
maintaining Israel’s technological edge over its neighbors. Israel is among the
world’s leading arms exporters. In 2006, it was the 9th leading supplier of arms
Since FY1988, the FMF procurement earmark for purchases within Israel has
been incorporated into annual foreign assistance legislation. Currently, approximately
one quarter of Israel’s FMF funds may be used for domestic defense purchases
($631.2 million in FY2008). As U.S. military aid to Israel has increased, the amount
set aside for defense purchases in Israel also has increased.
Recent U.S. Military Sales to Israel. Israel uses almost 75% of its FMF
funds to purchase U.S. defense equipment. By law, Congress must be notified of any
new purchase agreement. The Department of Defense’s Defense Security
Cooperation Agency (DSCA) is charged with managing U.S. arms sales to Israel.
Recent sales include the following:
On October 29, 2007, DSCA notified Congress of a possible Foreign
Military Sale to Israel of missiles and munitions as well as
associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are
exercised, could be as high as $1.329 billion. Israel requested the
sale in order to replenish its stocks after its 2006 war with Hezbollah
in Lebanon. The possible sale includes 100 anti-ballistic missile
Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile Plus; 1,700 Hellfire missiles in
three variants; 2,014 TOW 2A radio frequency missiles of two
kinds; 5,000 M141 83mm bunker defeat munitions, and more than
280,000 cartridges of various types. Raytheon and Hellfire Systems
LLC would be the primary contractors.
On August 24, 2007, DSCA notified Congress of three possible
Foreign Military Sales to Israel. The first proposal was for JP-8
Aviation Jet and Diesel fuel. The total value, if all options are
exercised, could be as high as $308 million. The second notification
was for a possible sale to Israel of Advanced Medium Range Air-toAir missiles (AMRAAM). The total value, if all options are
exercised, could be as high as $171 million. Raytheon would be the
primary contractor. Finally, the third notification was for the sale of
Harpoon anti-ship and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The total
value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $163 million.
The Boeing Company and Raytheon would be the primary
“Pentagon says Israel improves arms-export controls,” Reuters, September 5, 2007.
CRS Report RL34187, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1999-2006,
by Richard Grimmett.
On August 3, 2007, DSCA notified Congress of a possible Foreign
Military Sale to Israel of various munitions and weapon systems,
including 10,000 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits and
GBU-28 bunker buster bombs. The total value, if all options are
exercised, could be as high as $465 million.
In April 1998, the United States designated Israel as a “major non-NATO ally,”
which qualifies Israel to receive Excess Defense Articles (EDA) under Section 516
of the Foreign Assistance Act and Section 23(a) of the Arms Export Control Act.
DSCA manages the EDA program, which enables the U.S. to reduce its inventory of
outdated equipment by providing friendly countries with necessary supplies at either
reduced rates or at no charge.8
Defense Budget Appropriations for U.S.-Israeli
Missile Defense Programs
Congress and successive Administrations have shown strong support for joint
U.S.-Israeli missile defense projects. U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation has
perennially been authorized and appropriated in the defense authorization and
appropriations bills. Missile defense cooperation is generally not considered a form
of direct aid, but many U.S. and Israeli observers consider it a vital component of the
Israel’s strategic relationship with the United States. Israel and the United States each
financially contribute to several projects and share technology from co-developed
P.L.110-116, the FY2008 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, provides
a total of $155.5 million for U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs. The President had
requested $81 million in funding for FY2008.
Multi-Layered Missile Defense
Over the past several years, U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation has evolved
to include the co-development of several systems designed to thwart a diverse range
of threats, from short-range missiles and rockets fired by non-state groups, such as
Hamas and Hezbollah,9 to middle and long-range ballistic missiles in Syria and Iran’s
To access DSCA’s Excess Defense Articles database, see [http://www.dsca.mil/programs/
Beginning in 1996, the United States and Israel funded a short-range, anti-rocket program
called the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL). Technical difficulties and financial
disagreements with the prime contractor, TRW, over cost overruns plagued the program.
Ultimately, after the United States and Israel invested between $300 and $400 million in the
program ($139 million in U.S. contributions), defense experts concluded that the THEL
prototype, although effective against rockets and mortars, was too expensive and immobile
a solution. According to one analyst, “shooting the laser just once would have cost roughly
$3,000, and that protecting the whole border of Israel would have required a few dozen of
these systems.”The program was terminated in September 2005, but then revived a year later
arsenals.10 Israel also possesses U.S.-supplied Hawk and Patriot missile batteries. In
addition to joint programs, Israel has its own missile defense programs. Israel is
currently developing a short-range system dubbed “Iron Dome” to destroy crude,
Palestinian-made rockets fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Iron Dome is designed
to intercept very short-range threats up to 40 kilometers in all-weather situations.
David’s Sling. David’s Sling is a short/medium-range system designed to
counter rockets and missiles, such as those possessed by Hezbollah in Lebanon, fired
at ranges from 40 km to 300 km. It is being jointly developed by Israel's Rafael
Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon. The system is expected to be operable by
2010. P.L.110-116 provides $37 million for a short range missile defense program.
The Arrow and Arrow II. Since 1988, Israel and the United States have been
developing the Arrow Anti-Missile System, a weapon with a theater ballistic missile
defense capability. The United States has funded just under half of the annual costs
of the development of the Arrow Weapon System, with Israel supplying just over half
of the annual costs. The Arrow II program, a joint effort of Boeing and Israel
Aerospace Industries (IAI), is designed to defeat longer-range conventional ballistic
missiles. Of the total $155 million provided for U.S.-Israeli missile defense in the
FY2008 Defense Appropriations Act (P.L.110-116), $98 million is allocated for the
Arrow II program, of which “$37,383,000 shall be available for the purpose of
producing Arrow missile components in the United States and Arrow missile
components and missiles in Israel.”
A High Altitude Missile Defense System? Fearing a potential nuclear
threat from Iran, Israel has sought a missile interceptor that operates at a higher
altitude and greater range than the Arrow. P.L.110-116 provides $20 million for “risk
mitigation and preliminary design activities for an upper-tier component to the Israeli
Missile Defense Architecture.” In October 2007, the United States and Israel agreed
to establish a committee to evaluate Israel’s proposed “Arrow-3,” a top-tier system
designed to intercept advanced missiles with nuclear-tipped warheads.
by Northrop Grumman which created “Skyguard,”a more powerful version of the THEL.
Nevertheless, Israel’s Ministry of Defense believes that Skyguard does not function
optimally in bad weather. See, “U.S. and Israel Shelved Laser As a Defense,” New York
Times, July 30, 2006.
In the mid 1990s, the U.S. Air Force analyzed alternatives for a theater missile defense
system that could intercept missiles shortly after launch, when they are the most vulnerable.
In June 1997, the United States and Israel began a joint research program to develop a fleet
of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could deliver weapons that would intercept
ballistic missiles immediately after launch (boost phase). In late 1999, apparently because
of the complexities of the technology involved and disagreements between the United States
and Israel over the potential merits of the system, Israel decided not to move toward full
demonstration of the Boost Phase Intercept system. Congress provided a total of $53 million
for the Boost Phase Intercept program.
Table 1. Defense Budget Appropriations for U.S.-Israeli Missile
($ in millions)
Aid Restrictions and Possible Violations
Although U.S. assistance to Israel has remained high for several decades, there
have been some instances when the United States acted to restrict aid or rebuke Israel
for possible improper use of U.S.-supplied military equipment. The 1952 Mutual
Defense Assistance Agreement and subsequent arms agreements between Israel and
the United States limit the use of U.S. military equipment to defensive purposes. The
Arms Export Control Act states that the United States may stop aid to countries
which use U.S. military assistance for purposes other than “legitimate self-defense.”
In 1982, the Reagan Administration determined that Israel “may” have violated its
1952 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the United States by reportedly
using U.S.-supplied anti-personnel cluster bombs against civilian targets during its
military operations in Lebanon and the siege of Beirut.11 As a result, the Reagan
Administration prohibited U.S. export of cluster bombs to Israel for six years.12
During the July-August 2006 war in Lebanon, Israel used cluster munitions to
counter Hezbollah rocket attacks. The United States apparently supplied some of the
cluster weapons that Israel used in the conflict.13 Since the August 2006 IsraeliHezbollah cease-fire, there have been a number of reported Lebanese civilian deaths
See, CRS Report RL30982, U.S. Defense Articles and Services Supplied to Foreign
Recipients: Restrictions on Their Use, by Richard Grimmett.
The Reagan Administration also temporarily suspended the delivery of F-16 aircraft to
Israel after it bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.
David S. Cloud, “Inquiry Opened Into Israeli Use Of U.S. Bombs,” New York Times
August 25, 2006. An August 26, 2006, presentation by United Nations Mine Action
Coordination Center (UNMAS) South Lebanon office catalogued the following numbers of
U.S.-manufactured cluster weapon sub-munitions during surveys in southern Lebanon
(source weapons in parentheses): 715 M-42’s (105-millimeter artillery shells), 820 M-77’s
(M-26 rockets), and 5 BLU-63’s (CBU-26 cluster bombs). The UNMAS teams also reported
631 M-85 Israeli-produced sub-munitions had been found. See, UNMAS South Lebanon,
“Cluster Bomb Situation - South Lebanon July/August 2006,” August 26, 2006.
and injuries from unexploded bomb remnants spread across a wide area of southern
Lebanon. After the war, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal
and Abatement implemented a landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO)
humanitarian clearance program in Lebanon.
The Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls reportedly
conducted an investigation focused on whether Israel violated confidential
agreements with the United States that restrict Israel’s use of U.S.-supplied cluster
munitions to certain military targets in non-civilian areas. On January 28, 2007, the
State Department issued a preliminary report to Congress concluding that Israel may
have violated the terms of classified U.S.-Israeli procurement agreements on the use
of cluster bombs in populated areas. According to State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack, “There were likely violations,” though he added that “This is a
preliminary finding and because it also involves the agreements about use (of
munitions), which are classified, I cannot get into the details.”14 The State
Department has reportedly asked Israel for additional information on reports that
Israeli troops violated orders that restricted how U.S.-manufactured cluster bombs
could be used during the summer 2006 war.15
In December 2007, the IDF concluded its investigation into its 2006 use of
cluster bombs stating that “It was clear that the majority of the cluster munitions were
fired at open and uninhabited areas, areas from which Hezbollah forces operated and
in which no civilians were present....The use of this weaponry was legal once it was
determined that, in order to prevent rocket fire onto Israel, its use was a concrete
military necessity.” The IDF also announced that it would not press charges against
officers who ordered the use of cluster bombs during the 2006 war.
H.R. 2764, the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations bill, would significantly
restrict the export of U.S.-manufactured cluster munitions. Section 646 (b) of the bill
states that “no military assistance shall be furnished for cluster munitions, no defense
export license for cluster munitions may be issued, and no cluster munitions or
cluster munitions technology shall be sold or transferred, unless (1) the submunitions
of the cluster munitions have a 99 percent or higher tested rate; and (2) the agreement
applicable to the assistance, transfer, or sale of the cluster munitions or cluster
munitions technology specifies that the cluster munitions will only be used against
clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be
On September 6, 2007, the President objected to efforts by lawmakers to ban the
export of cluster munitions. In a statement of Administration policy, the President
wrote “The Administration also objects to restrictions on providing military
“U.S. Says Israel May Have Violated Agreement on Cluster Bomb Use,” Reuters, January
“Israel May have Violated Arms Pact, U.S. Says,” New York Times, January 28, 2007.
assistance for cluster munitions.... Currently, the sales of cluster munitions are
subject to safeguards.16
Israeli Arms Sales to China
Over the last two decades, the United States and Israel have disagreed over
Israeli sales of sensitive U.S. technologies to China. U.S. objections have largely
been communicated by successive Administrations and Pentagon officials, though
in recent years, some Members of Congress expressed dissatisfaction over one
reported sale. In 2000, Representative Sonny Callahan, former Chairman of the
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, sought to withhold
$250 million in aid to Israel unless it cancelled a planned sale to China of an
Airborne Early Warning System.17 On June 20, 2000, the House Foreign Operations
Subcommittee voted nine to six to defeat Callahan’s proposal.18 In 2005, the United
States suspended Israel from participating in the development of the Joint Strike
Fighter (JSF) and imposed other restrictions in defense ties because of Israeli plans
to upgrade Chinese Harpy Killer drone aircraft. Israel ultimately canceled the sale.
In order to create a more transparent arms transfer process, former U.S. Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz signed
a 2005 bilateral agreement mandating Israeli consultation with the U.S. government
on sensitive arms transfers to third parties. The Israeli government also has
established its own arms export controls agency to supervise military sales. In 2006,
Israel reportedly froze a $100-million contract with Venezuela to upgrade its U.S.manufactured F-16 fighter jets due to U.S. pressure. According to one former U.S.
official, “We don’t officially acknowledge our supervisory role or our de facto veto
right over their exports.... It’s a matter of courtesy to our Israeli friends, who are very
serious about their sovereignty and in guarding their reputation on the world
Continued Israeli settlement building led the United States to reduce the amount
of loans it has extended to Israel. By law, U.S. loan guarantees cannot be used to
finance Israeli settlement building in areas occupied after the 1967 War. In the mid1990s and then again in 2003, the United States reduced loan guarantees to Israel by
“Statement of Administration Policy , H.R. 2764 – State, Foreign Operations, and Related
Programs Appropriations Act, 2008,” Office of Management and Budget, September 6,
Eric Pianin, “Israel-China Radar Deal Opposed,” Washington Post, April 7, 2000.
According to the House Committee, “the Committee is very disturbed by reports that
Israel is preparing to provide China with an airborne radar system that could threaten both
the forces of democratic Taiwan and the United States in the region surrounding the Taiwan
Strait. The Committee intends to revisit this issue as the appropriations process moves
forward.” H.Rept. 106-720, accompanying H.R. 4811 (P.L. 106-429), the FY2001 Foreign
Operations Appropriations Act.
“ U.S. OKs Israel-China Spy Sat Deal,” DefenseNews.com, October 12, 2007.
an amount equal to Israel’s estimated spending on settlement construction in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Other Ongoing Assistance and Cooperative
Migration & Refugee Assistance
Beginning in 1973, Israel
has received grants from the
Migration and Refugee
State Department’s Migration
and Refugee Assistance fund
(MRA)20 to assist in the
resettlement of humanitarian
migrants to Israel. Funds are
paid to the United Israel Appeal,
a private philanthropic
organization in the United
States, which in turn transfers
the funds to the Jewish
Agency. Between 1973 and
1991, the United States gave
about $460 million for resettling
Source: U.S. State Department.
Jewish refugees in Israel.
Note: The level of funding reflects a
Annual amounts have varied
decline in need due to the overall
from a low of $12 million to a
decreasing numbers of migrants to Israel.
high of $80 million, based on
the number of Jews leaving the
former Soviet Union and other
areas for Israel. The Refugee and Migration funds for Israel are earmarked by
Congress; the Administration usually does not request specific amounts of Refugee
and Migration assistance for Israel.
Congress has changed the earmark language since the first refugee resettlement
funds were appropriated in 1973. At first, the congressional earmark said the funds
were for “resettlement in Israel of refugees from the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics and from Communist countries in Eastern Europe.” But in 1985, the
language was simplified to “refugees resettling in Israel” to ensure that Ethiopian
Jews would be covered by the funding. Technically, the earmark designates funds
for refugee resettlement, but in Israel little differentiation is made between “refugees”
and other immigrants, and the funds are used to support the absorption of all
The Refugee and Migration Account (MRA) is authorized as part of the State Department
funding but is appropriated through the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.
The Jewish Agency’s website is available at [http://www.jafi.org.il/].
According to the FY2008 Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign
Operations, the FY2008 MRA request for Israel includes $40 million to support a
package of services designed to promote integration of approximately 11,500
migrants into Israeli society, including transportation to Israel, Hebrew language
instruction, transitional housing, education, and vocational training.
Overview. Since 1972, the United States has extended loan guarantees to
Israel to assist with housing shortages, Israel’s absorption of new immigrants from
the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, and its economic recovery following the 20002003 recession sparked by the renewal of Palestinian uprising. Loan guarantees are
a form of indirect U.S. assistance to Israel, since they enable Israel to borrow from
commercial sources at lower rates and not from the United States government.
Congress directs that subsidies be set aside in a U.S. Treasury account for possible
default. These subsidies, which are a percentage of the total loan (based in part on
the credit rating of the borrowing country; in the case of the loan guarantees in the
1990s, the subsidy amount was 4.1%), have come from the U.S. or the Israeli
government. Israel has never defaulted on a U.S.-backed loan guarantee, as it needs
to maintain its good credit rating in order to secure financing to offset annual budget
Loan Guarantees for Economic Recovery. In 2003, Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon requested an additional $8 billion in loan guarantees to help Israel’s
failing economy. The loan guarantee request accompanied a request for an additional
$4 billion in military grants to help Israel prepare for possible attacks during an
anticipated U.S. war with Iraq and Israeli efforts to end the Palestinian uprising. P.L.
108-11, the FY2003 Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, included
$9 billion in loan guarantees over three years for Israel’s economic recovery and $1
billion in military grants. P.L. 108-11 stated that the proceeds from the loan
guarantees could be used only within Israel’s pre-June 1967 borders, that the annual
loan guarantees could be reduced by an amount equal to the amount Israel spends on
settlements in the occupied territories, that Israel would pay all fees and subsidies,
and that the President would consider Israel’s economic reforms when determining
terms and conditions for the loan guarantees. On November 26, 2003, the
Department of State announced that the $3 billion loan guarantees for FY2003 were
reduced by $289.5 million because Israel continued to build settlements in the
occupied territories and continued construction of the security barrier separating the
Israelis and Palestinians. No other deductions have been made.
P.L. 108-447, the FY2005 Consolidated Appropriations Bill, first extended the
authority of the loan guarantees from FY2005 to FY2007. In the aftermath of the
2006 Israel-Hezbollah conflict, President Bush stated that he would ask Congress to
again extend the authorization of loan guarantees to Israel. P.L.109-472, the 2006
Department of State Authorities Act, extends the authority to provide loan guarantees
through FY2010. Israel has not any borrowed funds since FY2005.
Table 3. Loan Guarantees for Economic Recovery
($ in millions)
2,000 (+ 2,600
Source: U.S. State Department.
*Under the original authorizing legislation, Israel was permitted to borrow $3 billion in FY2005. P.L.
108-447 extended the overall time frame for the loan guarantees, and the United States allotted $1
billion increments for Israel to draw on in fiscal years 2005-2007.
**From FY2003-FY2005, approximately $4.6 billion in loan guarantees remained unspent by Israel.
Of that amount, $2.6 billion had been carried over from previous years and had already met certain
financial benchmarks established by a Joint U.S.-Israeli Economic Group overseeing the loan
guarantees. Because Israel has already met such criteria, it can draw on the $2.6 billion at any time.
The remaining $2 billion in authorized loan guarantees has been apportioned out by the U.S.
government in $400 million increments from FY2006-FY2010.
American Schools and Hospitals Abroad Program (ASHA)22
Through Foreign Operations appropriations legislation, Congress has funded the
ASHA program as part of the overall Development Assistance (DA) appropriation
to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). According to
USAID, ASHA is designed to strengthen self-sustaining schools, libraries and
medical centers that best demonstrate American ideas and practices abroad. ASHA
has been providing support to institutions in the Middle East since 1957, and there
According to USAID, recipients of ASHA grants on behalf of overseas institutions must
be private U.S. organizations, headquartered in the United States, and tax-exempt. The U.S.
organization must also serve as the founder for and/or sponsor of the overseas institution.
Schools must be for secondary or higher education and hospital centers must conduct
medical education and research outside the United States. Grants are made to U.S. sponsors
for the exclusive benefit of institutions abroad. See [http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/crosscutting_programs/asha/].
are a number of Israeli universities and hospitals that have been recipients of ASHA
grants. Over the past several years, Israeli institutions, such as the Shaare Zedek
Medical Center in Jerusalem and the Hadassah Medical Organization, have received
ASHA funding. The Hadassah Medical Organization was nominated for the 2005
Nobel Peace Prize for its equitable treatment of Palestinians and Israelis patients.
According to USAID, institutions based in Israel have received the most program
funding in the Middle East region.
Table 4. ASHA Program Grants to Israeli Institutions,
U.S.-Israeli Scientific & Business Cooperation
In the early1970s, Israeli academics and businessmen began looking for ways
to expand investment in Israel’s high technology sector. At the time, Israel’s nascent
technology sector, which would later on become the driving force in Israel’s
economy, was in need of private capital for research and development. The United
States and Israel launched several programs to stimulate Israeli industrial and
scientific research, and Congress has on several occasions authorized and
appropriated funds for the following organizations:
The BIRD Foundation (Israel-U.S. Binational Research &
Development Foundation).23 BIRD, which was established in 1977,
provides matchmaking services between Israeli and American
companies in the field of Research and Development with the goal
of expanding cooperation between U.S. and Israeli private high tech
See [http://www.birdf.com/default.asp]. Congress helped establish BIRD’s endowment
with appropriations of $30 million and $15 million in 1977 and 1985 respectively. These
grants were matched by the Israeli government for a total endowment of $90 million
The BSF Foundation (U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation).24
BSF, which was started in 1972, promotes cooperation in scientific
and technological research.
The BARD Foundation (Binational Agriculture and Research and
Development Fund). BARD was created in 1978 and supports U.S.Israeli cooperation in agricultural research.25
Section 917 of P.L.110-140, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and
Energy Efficiency Act of 2007, contains the original language of the U.S.-Israel
Energy Cooperation Act (H.R. 1838). Although it does not appropriate any funds for
joint research and development, it does establish a grant program to support research,
development, and commercialization of renewable energy or energy efficiency. The
law also authorizes the Secretary of Energy to provide funds for the grant program
U.S. government assistance to Israel began in 1949 with a $100 million ExportImport Bank Loan.26 For the next two decades, U.S. aid to Israel was modest and
was far less than in later years.27 Although the United States provided moderate
amounts of economic aid (mostly loans), Israel’s main early patron was France,
which provided Israel with advanced military equipment and technology.28 In 1962,
Israel purchased its first advanced weapons system from the United States (Hawk
See [http://www.bsf.org.il/Gateway4/]. Congress helped establish BSF’s endowment with
appropriations of $30 million and $20 million in 1972 and 1984 respectively. These grants
were matched by Israel for a total endowment of $100 million. According to the treaty
establishing the Foundation, the Foundation shall use the interest, as well as any funds
derived from its activities, for the operations of the Foundation.
See [http://www.bard-isus.com/]. Congress helped establish BARD’s endowment with
appropriations of $40 million and $15 million in 1979 and 1985 respectively. These grants
were matched by the State of Israel for a total endowment of $110 million. In recent years,
Congress has provided funds for BARD in annual Agriculture Appropriations legislation at
approximately $500,000 a year.
In 1948, President Harry Truman, who sympathized with the plight of Israel in its early
days, placed an arms embargo on Israel and her Arab neighbors in order to keep the United
States neutral in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. The Tripartite Declaration of 1950
reaffirmed U.S., British, and French opposition to the development of Arab-Israeli arms
From 1949 through 1965, U.S. aid to Israel averaged about $63 million per year, over
95% of which was economic development assistance and food aid. A modest military loan
program began in 1959.
France supplied Israel with military equipment mainly to counter Egypt. In the 1950s and
early 1960s, Egypt antagonized France by providing arms and training for Algeria’s war for
independence against France.
antiaircraft missiles).29 In 1968, a year after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War in
June 1967, the Johnson Administration, with strong support from Congress,
approved the sale of Phantom aircraft to Israel, establishing the precedent for U.S.
support for Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors.30
Large-scale U.S. assistance for Israel increased considerably after Arab-Israeli
wars created a sense among many Americans that Israel was continually under
siege.31 Consequently, Congress, supported by broad U.S. public opinion, committed
to strengthening Israel’s military and economy through large increases in foreign aid.
From 1966 through 1970, average aid per year increased to about $102 million and
military loans increased to about 47% of the total. In 1971, the United States
provided Israel with military loans of $545 million, up from $30 million in 1970.
Also in 1971, Congress first designated a specific amount of aid for Israel in
legislation (an “earmark”). Economic assistance changed from project aid, such as
support for agricultural development work, to a Commodity Import Program (CIP)
for the purchase of U.S. goods.32 In effect, the United States stepped in to fill the role
that France had relinquished after French President Charles de Gaulle refused to
supply Israel with military hardware to protest its preemptive launch of the Six Day
War in June 1967. Israel became the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance in
1974. From 1971 to the present, U.S. aid to Israel has averaged over $2.6 billion per
year, two-thirds of which has been military assistance.
1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty. The 1979 Camp David Peace Treaty
between Israel and Egypt ushered in the current era of U.S. financial support for
peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors. To facilitate a complete cessation of
hostilities and Israel’s return of the Sinai Peninsula, the United States provided a total
of $7.5 billion to both parties in 1979. The “Special International Security Assistance
Act of 1979” (P.L. 96-35) provided military and economic grants to Israel and Egypt
at a ratio of 3:2, respectively.33
“America’s Staunchest Mideast Ally,” Christian Science Monitor, August 21, 2003.
Section 303 of P.L. 90-554, Foreign Assistance Act of 1968, expresses the sense of
Congress to see the United States negotiate the sale of supersonic aircraft to Israel.
Between 1967 and 1973, Israel and its Arab neighbors fought the June 1967 War, the
ensuing War of Attrition (1969), and the October 1973 War. Israel also was engaged in low
level guerrilla warfare with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and other groups, which
had bases in Jordan and later in Lebanon. The 1974 emergency aid for Israel, following the
1973 war, included the first U.S. military grant aid to Israel.
The Commodity Import Program for Israel ended in 1979 and was replaced with direct,
largely unconditional cash transfers.
This ratio is not found in the text of the 1978 and 1979 Camp David agreements. U.S.
officials have not formally recognized the ratio. Egypt believes that, since it took political
risks in making peace with Israel, the United States should be even-handed in its assistance
policy to the region. The Egyptian government claims that a 3:2 ratio between Israel and
Egypt was established during the negotiations.
Emergency Aid. U.S. assistance also has been used to help ease financial
pressures on the Israeli treasury during recession.34 In 1985, the United States
significantly increased U.S. assistance to Israel, with Congress passing a special
economic assistance package of $1.5 billion in order to help the Israeli economy cope
with soaring inflation and economic stagnation.35 As part of the assistance
agreement, the United States and Israel formed the U.S.-Israel Joint Economic
Development Group (JEDG) in order to support Israeli economic reforms.36 In
addition, all U.S. military aid to Israel was converted into grants in 1985.37 U.S.
economic aid had been converted to a cash grant transfer in 1981.
During times of domestic unrest in Israel and regional instability, U.S. aid to
Israel has increased. In 1991, Congress provided Israel $650 million in emergency
grants to pay for damage and other costs from Operation Desert Storm. In addition,
Israel was given Patriot missiles to defend against Iraqi Scud missile attacks. After
the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing increase in migration of
Russian and other Eastern bloc Jews to Israel, Congress approved $10 billion in loan
guarantees for Israel to help it absorb immigrants and provide them with adequate
social services. Finally, in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq invasion, Congress passed
the FY2003 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-11), which
included $9 billion in loan guarantees over three years for Israel’s economic recovery
and $1 billion in military grants.
Using Aid to Support the Peace Process. During the 1990s, the United
States provided aid to support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In late 1998,
Israel requested $1.2 billion in additional U.S. aid to fund the movement of troops
and military installations out of areas of the West Bank as called for in the October
23, 1998 Wye Agreement.38 The Clinton Administration requested $1.2 billion in
military aid for Israel to implement the Wye Agreement despite the fact that its
implementation had stalled. President Clinton vetoed H.R. 2606, the FY2000 foreign
operations appropriations bill, in part because it did not include the Wye funding. On
Beginning in the mid-1970s, Israel could no longer meet its balance of payments and
government deficits with imported capital (gifts from overseas Jews, West German
reparations, U.S. aid) and began to rely more on borrowed capital. Growing debt servicing
costs, mounting government social services expenditures, perennial high defense spending,
and a stagnant domestic economy combined with worldwide inflation and declining foreign
markets for Israeli goods pushed the Israeli economy into a near crisis situation in the mid1980s.
See Title I, Chapter V of P.L. 99-88, Economic Support Fund assistance for Israel, Egypt,
and Jordan. In 1985, the United States and Israel also concluded a Free Trade Agreement,
which dramatically boosted Israeli exports to the United States.
The JEDG meets on an annual basis to discuss financial sector and labor market reforms,
trade liberalization, and privatization. The JEDG also monitors the disbursement of U.S.
loan guarantees to Israel.
The 1974 emergency aid for Israel, following the 1973 war, included the first military
The full text of the 1998 Wye River Memorandum, a U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian
security agreement, is available online at [http://www.mfa.gov.il/NR/exeres/EE54A2898F0A-4CDC-93C9-71BD631109AB.htm].
November 29, 1999, the President signed the consolidated appropriations bill, H.R.
3194 (P.L. 106-113), which included in Division B passage of H.R. 3422, the Foreign
Operations Appropriations bill. Title VI of H.R. 3422 included the $1.2 billion Wye
funding for Israel.
Appendix: Recent Aid to Israel
Table 6 shows cumulative U.S. aid to Israel for FY1949 through FY1996, and
U.S. aid to Israel for each fiscal year since. Detail for the years 1949-1996 is shown
in Table 7.
Table 5. Recent U.S. Aid to Israel
(millions of dollars)
Notes: ESF was earmarked for $960 million for FY2000 but was reduced to meet a 0.38% recision.
FY2000 military grants include $1.2 billion for the Wye agreement and $1.92 billion in annual military
aid. Final amounts for FY2003 are reduced by 0.65% mandated recision, and final amounts for
FY2004 are reduced by 0.59%.
The $600 million in housing loan guarantees, $5.5 billion in military debt reduction loan guarantees,
$9.2 billion in Soviet Jew resettlement loan guarantees, and $9 billion in economic recovery loan
guarantees are not included in the tables because the United States government did not transfer funds
to Israel. The United States underwrote loans to Israel from commercial institutions.
Table 6. U.S. Assistance to Israel, FY1949-FY1996
(millions of dollars)
* = less than $50,000
- = None
NA = Not Available
TQ = Transition Quarter, when the U.S. fiscal year changed from June to September.
FFP = Food for Peace
Cooperative Development Grant: Three programs are in the cooperative development category: Middle East
Regional Cooperation (MERC) intended for projects that foster economic growth and economic cooperation
between Israel and its neighbors; Cooperative Development Program (CDP); and the Cooperative Development
Research (CDR), both of which fund Israel’s foreign aid program. Israel received about one half of the $94
million MERC, and all of the $53 million CDP and $39 million CDR.
“Other Loan” is a CCC loan. “Other Grants” are $20 million in 1975 for a seawater desalting plant and $50
million in 1996 for anti-terrorism.
Definition of Aid: Under the category of foreign aid, some people include other funds transferred to Israel, such
as the $180 million for research and development of the Arrow missile, or the $7.9 billion in loan guarantees for
housing or settling Soviet Jews in Israel. None of these funds is included in this table.