In-Depth: Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced this bill to increase security and economic cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. After a similar bill he sponsored in the 115th Congress, the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 5141), passed the House, Rep. Deutch said:
“Israel is under constant threat from every direction. A threat to Israel, our strategic ally in a turbulent region, is also a threat to our national security. Enhancing Israel’s security is a step toward strengthening our own national security. This bill will significantly enhance Israel's Qualitative Military Edge over its enemies and improve bilateral cooperation on cybersecurity and space issues. Passage of the bill sends a powerful message of bipartisan American support for Israel and our continued investment in its security."
Unlike the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, which only contained security elements, this bill contains both security and economic cooperation provisions.
Stephen Zunes, an assistant professor in the Department of Politics at the University of San Francisco, contends that U.S. aid to Israel may be hindering the peace process:
“Aid to Israel, particularly in recent years, has been justified as necessary to support the peace process. However, as noted authority on negotiations Roger Fisher has observed, one must apply both a carrot and a stick to convince a party to make the compromises necessary in diplomacy. Using either one alone denies the party you are trying to influence any incentive. Yet, the United States has used the carrot with Israel almost exclusively. With repeated public pronouncements by U.S. officials that aid to Israel is unconditional, Israel has no incentive to make the necessary concessions that could lead to ace, or even to end its human-rights abuses and violations of international law. As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once told a colleague, ‘I ask Rabin to make concessions, and he says he can't because Israel is weak. So I give him more arms, and he say he doesn't need to make concessions because Israel is strong.’ This stands in contrast to the frequent use of aid as leverage to Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and other Arab states, as well as the Palestinian authority…. Arguably, the large amounts of U.S. aid to the Israeli government have not been as beneficial to Israel as many would suspect. [M]ilitary aid… ends up costing Israel two to three times that amount in training, staffing and maintenance, procurement of spare parts, and other related expenditures. The overall impact is to increase Israeli economic and military dependency on the United States and to drain Israel's fragile economy, taking money away from Israel's once-generous social welfare system.”
This bill passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by voice vote with the support of 273 bipartisan cosponsors, including 141 Republicans and 132 Democrats, in the current Congress. It also has the support of AIPAC and the Israeli-American Civic Action Network.
Of Note: AIPAC calls annual American security assistance to Israel “the most tangible manifestation” of U.S. support for the Jewish state. It notes that Israel is fighting against Iranian encroachment on its northern border with Lebanon and Syria, in addition to threats from Syria, Iran, and terror groups Hezbollah & Hamas. AIPAC calls Israel the United States’ “one stable democratic ally” that it can rely on in an “increasingly uncertain Middle East.”
In September 2016, the U.S. and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding granting Israel $3.8 billion annually from 2018-2028.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / ChiccoDodiFC)