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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking with President Barack Obama in 2014. (Photo: White House/Pete Souza)

Helping to 'Sustain Occupation,' US and Israel to Sign Biggest Military Aid Pact Ever

The U.S. is "helping the Israelis sustain the costs of the occupation we claim is unsustainable," says critic

Andrea Germanos

The United States and Israel are set to ink on Wednesday a landmark 10-year, $38 billion military aid deal that will be a boon for U.S. arms manufacturers.

It "constitutes the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance in U.S. history," the State Department said in a statement.

The new pact, which runs from 2019-2028, will give Israel—already the biggest recipient of U.S. aid—an average of $3.8 billion a year, the Times of Israel reports. That's an increase from the currently deal, expiring in 2018, which gave $3.1 billion a year.

As CNN explains, the new pact differs from the previous one in several aspects, including how it will benefit U.S. arms manufacturers:

Israel has agreed to a gradual phasing out of the practice by which as much as 26% of the U.S. aid could be spent on contracts with Israeli defense industries. Instead, all the aid will have to be spent on U.S. defense contractors who will supply Israel.

In previous deals, Israel has also been able to spend up to 13% of U.S. aid on military fuel, a practice that will end with this new agreement.

The new agreement will also include a decade's worth of funding for Israeli missile defense and a pledge from Israel that it will not lobby Congress for extra money for the program. In the past, funding for Israel's missile defense was provided in addition to the existing military aid of the agreement.

As Reuters reports, "the agreement triggered pushback from pro-Palestinian groups, who said the U.S. shouldn't reward Israel with unprecedented aid despite its settlement-building in the disputed West Bank. The Palestinians have demanded that construction stop before restarting peace talks, and the U.S. considers the settlements illegitimate."

Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, for example, told the New York Times that the U.S. is "helping the Israelis sustain the costs of the occupation we claim is unsustainable," adding that "it is high time we address our complicity in [the occupation.]"

And human rights activist Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink, told Common Dreams that one word would be enough to sum up her response to the deal. "Disgusting," she said.

Despite the record size of the deal, Politico writes:

is it enough to buy Obama the love of his fiercest pro-Israel critics?

Not a chance.

One such critic is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who wanted to advance a bill giving give Israel more aid—$3.4 billion next year—Josh Rogin wrote at the Washington Post:

The administration hasn’t complained to Graham directly; it told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about its problem, and he talked to Graham about it in a phone call last month. But in Graham's view, Congress has no obligation to agree to the deal, given that it was not included in the negotiations.

"The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion," Graham said. "I said, 'Tell the administration to go F themselves.'"

The pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, meanwhile, praised the pact for demonstrating "America's strong and unwavering commitment to Israel."


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