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senate Bill S. 2497

Should the U.S. Reaffirm its Commitment to Israel’s Security by Providing Military Aid?

Argument in favor

America’s interest in Israel’s security is significant. Given the Middle East’s security situation, it’s more important than ever for the U.S. to both provide financial support to Israeli military goals, and for relevant U.S. agencies to cooperate with relevant Israeli agencies in areas of mutual interest.

Roger 's Opinion
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09/12/2018
Yes! Out of all the countries that are suppose to be our allies, Isreal deserves our support the most. If it wasn't for us the middle east most likely would have destroyed Isreal by now. If we can go to war for a country like Kuwait, then we can most certainly give aid to Isreal.
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Edder61's Opinion
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09/12/2018
There is no question that Israel is our friend and ally. It is in our interest and it's morally right. We send aid to countries that are much less loyal if at all. I don't understand the hate that I see in the other comments. Israel Has never carried out an act of terrorism against us or anyone else.. I see comments about them being Apartheid and land thieves. Nothing can be further from the truth. That land along with much of the surrounding area belongs to them. Other people are on their land.
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Diana's Opinion
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09/12/2018
Israel is one of our strongest allies. They stand alone in the Middle East and need our support.
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Argument opposed

U.S. aid to Israel is counterproductive to the peace process. Israel’s economic and military dependence on the U.S. is draining its economy, which would benefit more from domestic arms manufacturing than from U.S. funds and equipment going directly to the Israeli military.

Tim's Opinion
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09/12/2018
No. Have those thieves return the Palestinians’ land. The land they stole from a disarmed populace.
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Becca's Opinion
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09/12/2018
Israel is an illegal settler occupation who keeps the citizens of Palestine in an open air prison. They shoot innocent men, women, and children. They withhold medical treatment from the people of Palestine by blocking aid and access to chemotherapy by denying access into Israel where there doctors are. There citizens have no qualms with genocide as long as they get to keep the land. We must stop funding this genocide against the Palestinian people.
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Jugbo's Opinion
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09/12/2018
No. Isreal has enough resources to protect themselves. Maybe they can get a patreon account. Their security is not our security.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house Passed September 12th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Armed Services
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
  • The senate Passed August 1st, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
    IntroducedMarch 5th, 2018

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What is Senate Bill S. 2497?

This bill — the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 — would codify the 2016 memorandum of understanding signed by Israel and the U.S. guaranteeing Israel $38 billion in defense assistance over 10 years. It’d also commit the U.S. to supporting Israel’s ability to meet and address both conventional and emerging threats and enhances U.S.-Israel cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as cyber security.

The major provisions of this legislation would:

  • Authorize U.S. security assistance for Israel, as called for in the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance, through 2023 at an amount of at least $3.3 billion;

  • Extend authorization for loan guarantees to Israel through 2023;

  • Extend authorization for the U.S. War Reserve Stockpile in Israel through 2023;

  • Authorize the president to transfer precision guided munitions to Israel for its defense;

  • Direct the president to take take steps to add Israel to the list of countries eligible for the Strategic Trade Authorization Exception from the Export Administration Regulations;

  • Direct the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator to work with the Israel Space Agency to identity and cooperatively pursue peaceful space exploration and science initiatives in areas of mutual interest;

  • Direct the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to partner with Israel to advance common goals across a variety of sectors, including energy, agriculture and food security, democracy, human rights and governance, economic growth and trade, education, environment, global health, and water and sanitation, and authorizes the USAD Administrator to enter memoranda of understanding with Israel for this coordination;

  • Authorize the president to enter a cooperative project agreement with Israel to research, develop, test, evaluate, jointly product, and support defense articles and defense services to destroy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that threaten either the U.S. or Israel; and

  • Affirm America’s commitment to ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge, which means maintaining Israel’s ability to counter and defeat any credible threat from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actors while sustaining minimal damages and casualties via the use of superior military means.

Impact

NASA; USAID; Israel; U.S. War Reserve Stockpile; and the president.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2497

The CBO estimated that implementing the original version of this bill, which authorized the appropriation of $3.3 billion annually over the 2019-2023 period for assistance to Israel, would cost $16.5 billion over the 2019-2023 period. The amended version of this bill, which authorizes a minimum of at least $3.3 billion in assistance to Israel over the 2019-2023 period, would cost at least, and potentially more than, $16.5 billion over the 2019-2023 period, depending on the annual appropriation for assistance to Israel.

More Information

In-Depth: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced this legislation to affirm the bipartisan support for the “unshakeable” U.S.-Israel relationship and Israel’s right to defend itself and wrote in a joint press release:

“As recent events have shown, new threats to Israel are constantly evolving. Israel has no choice but to adapt to these changes, and to do so, it is going to need continued and expanded assistance from and cooperation with the United States. Our two nations share a long, close and strategic relationship based on mutual interests and mutual ideals. Our bill recognizes the need for increased assistance to Israel to defend herself, protect Israeli citizens from current threats, and address new and emerging threats to Israel and our mutual interests. With this bill, Congress has a unique opportunity to advance our own national security interests, help defend and increase cooperation with one of our closest allies, and get back in the business of authorizing foreign assistance. We look forward to working with our colleagues to pass the United States-Israel Security Assistance Act with overwhelming bipartisan support.”

After this bill’s passage in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen added:

“Iran’s brazen antagonism and aggression toward Israel have taken an alarming turn for the worse. This rogue regime is attempting to encircle the democratic Jewish state and provoke a direct confrontation. Iranian groups have joined Hezbollah, the regime’s proxy and U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and are amassing on Israel’s borders. This represents a very real and dangerous threat to our close friend and ally, and that is precisely why Ted and I authored the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act – to ensure that Israel will always have what it needs to secure and defend itself and its citizens from all threats. Our bill provides Israel with at least some peace of mind, knowing that the United States will continue to stand beside the Jewish state and that we will continue to seek ways to strengthen our bilateral relationship. I thank my colleagues for supporting this important bill and it is my hope the Senate can take action on this measure so we can get it to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”

Rep. Deutch added that current threats make it especially important to ensure that Israel can defend itself:

“The US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act codifies the 2016 US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding that provides historic security assistance to our ally. It also expands cooperation on cyber, space, and joint development assistance projects In light of Hezbollah gains in Lebanon, escalating Iranian threats in Syria, violent attempts by Hamas to breach Israel’s border from Gaza -- this bill will help ensure Israel has the ability to defend itself against these growing threats.”

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 Committee on Foreign Affairs by unanimous consent with the support of 293 bipartisan cosponsors, including 170 Republicans and 123 Democrats. AIPAC made this bill one of its major legislative priorities.

The U.S.’ ability to ability to meet one provision of this bill, the prioritization of delivering precision-guided munitions to Israel, is questionable. According to a House staffer interviewed by Al-Monitor in May 2018, the U.S. currently doesn’t have enough precision-guided munitions stockpiled for itself in the case of an emergency.


Of NoteIn September 2016, the U.S. and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding granting Israel $3.8 billion annually from 2018-2028. After the memorandum was signed, Republican senators said they’d seek to overturn part of it so Israel could receive even more aid.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: U.S. Navy via Flickr / Public Domain)

AKA

United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018

Official Title

A bill to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act to make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions and to authorize the appropriations of funds to Israel, and for other purposes.

    Yes! Out of all the countries that are suppose to be our allies, Isreal deserves our support the most. If it wasn't for us the middle east most likely would have destroyed Isreal by now. If we can go to war for a country like Kuwait, then we can most certainly give aid to Isreal.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    No. Have those thieves return the Palestinians’ land. The land they stole from a disarmed populace.
    Like (45)
    Follow
    Share
    Israel is an illegal settler occupation who keeps the citizens of Palestine in an open air prison. They shoot innocent men, women, and children. They withhold medical treatment from the people of Palestine by blocking aid and access to chemotherapy by denying access into Israel where there doctors are. There citizens have no qualms with genocide as long as they get to keep the land. We must stop funding this genocide against the Palestinian people.
    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
    No. Isreal has enough resources to protect themselves. Maybe they can get a patreon account. Their security is not our security.
    Like (26)
    Follow
    Share
    There is no question that Israel is our friend and ally. It is in our interest and it's morally right. We send aid to countries that are much less loyal if at all. I don't understand the hate that I see in the other comments. Israel Has never carried out an act of terrorism against us or anyone else.. I see comments about them being Apartheid and land thieves. Nothing can be further from the truth. That land along with much of the surrounding area belongs to them. Other people are on their land.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    Should we put billions on our children’s credit to finance an apartheid state on the other side of the planet?? NO!
    Like (12)
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    When the Israelis stop treating the Palestinians like subhumans, then maybe we should give them aid. Until then, they shouldn't get a penny. How can they treat people so badly when they have been the victims of unspeakable behavior for hundreds of years?
    Like (10)
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    Isreal is in violation of international law and has been for decades. The seige on Gaza must be lifted, Palestine must be restored, and there must be an honest push towards a two states solution. Israel is an apartheid state committing genocide on the Palestinian people and we CANNOT support that.
    Like (8)
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    Israel doesn't need any help. Palestine, on the other hand...
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    No! End all military aid to Wars that have nothing to do with us. Israel hasn’t actually done anything for us. Pull completely out of the Middle East.
    Like (8)
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    Israel is a terrorist state.
    Like (7)
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    Israel seems to be doing just fine compared to the people of Palestine. Let’s get our national debt under control first.
    Like (7)
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    Yes, Israel is our closest alliance and a dear friend. We can be assured that they will have our back and we in turn have theirs. #Stand with Israel #MAGA #End a Terrorist
    Like (5)
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    Israel has become a de facto authoritarian regime and treat the Palestinians alarmingly similarly to how the Germans treated European Jews in the early 20th Century.
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    Not at the expense of the Palestinians! Trump just voted to defund the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees; this is “governance” by bigotry.
    Like (5)
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    Israel is one of our strongest allies. They stand alone in the Middle East and need our support.
    Like (5)
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    Yes of course! History says the rest.
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    This is a terrorist state. It is the Palestinian people's who need our help
    Like (4)
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    Absolutely! Israel has done everything they can to protect themselves from multiple hostile people’s and we deserve to keep this ally as close as possible. They are the only real Republic in the Middle East that is a shining light for those who wish to emulate its government. Turkey no longer deserves our support and Israel should obtain all of it. They have never stepped away from our help nor have they made us question our support for it. Step up military relations with Israel as they will guarantee us better knowledge and cooperation on subject of cyber-security and conventional security than any of our allies since their system is always in use defending itself from multiple enemies.
    Like (4)
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    Israel is financially strong enough to provide for its own security. Israel needs to put an end to its atrocities with Palestinians. Israel should submit to a two state solution.
    Like (4)
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