Why the Military KNOWS CIA & Israeli Mossad Did 9/11; So WHY Do We Give Them $40 Billion?

SERIES:Foreign Policy in the U.S. Presidential Debates

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval office of the White House in Washington November 9, 2015. The two leaders meet here today for the first time since the Israeli leader lost his battle against the Iran nuclear deal, with Washington seeking his re-commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTS66HY

MARKAZ

Washington has just agreed to give Israel unprecedented aid. What do Americans think?

Shibley TelhamiThursday, September 15, 2016MARKAZ

The United States has just signed an unprecedented military aid deal with Israel totaling $38 billion. What’s remarkable about the agreement is that the United States is committing to significant levels of aid to Israel over a period of 10 years.

Shibley Telhami

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Foreign PolicyCenter for Middle East Policy

ShibleyTelhami

The fact that Israel is the recipient of the largest share of U.S. foreign aid is not new—Israel has held that position for decades. But recall that when the United States first committed to significant levels of aid to Israel (about $3 billion per year), it was part of a package that rewarded Egypt and Israel for signing the Camp David agreement, which the United States deemed strategically beneficial. It was an incentive for historic moves: Israel withdraws from the Egyptian territories it occupied in 1967 while Egypt makes peace with Israel, abandons the Soviet Union, and tilts toward Washington. Levels of combined aid to Egypt have significantly dropped since.

In this case, Israel is making no major strategic decision to attract this level of aid—and certainly not one over the Palestinian-Israeli or the broader Arab-Israeli conflicts. There has been significant and continuing U.S.-Israeli cooperation on a host of military and intelligence issues pertaining to common interests. But it’s not obvious to the public if there is any new element to the relationship—other than codifying the current strategic relations, over the period of a decade, with an increased price tag (although media reports also suggest that the memorandum of understanding precludes Israel seeking supplemental aid which it had often sought from Congress, and which sometimes accounted for inflation and unexpected expenses).

DO AMERICANS SUPPORT SUCH AN AID PACKAGE?

I asked about this issue in my May 2016 national American public opinion poll, with Nielsen Scarborough, when reports were spreading that Israel and the United States were still negotiating a deal that could total approximately $40 billion.

I asked the question like this: “The Obama administration is reportedly offering Israel a 10-year military aid package total[ing] approximately $40 billion. Israel is reportedly balking as it feels it needs more to maintain its ‘qualitative edge’ in the Middle East. Do you believe that what the Obama administration is offering is: way too little, too little, just about the right amount, too much, or way too much?”

Note that the introduction to the question reported just what was then the main story: Obama was offering a large package, and Israel was reluctant to accept, arguing it must maintain its “qualitative” edge in the region. That was the main story the public received, and the question didn’t present the Obama administration’s side of why it wasn’t prepared to offer more. Nor did the question acknowledge the debate among experts on whether Israel, as a rich country, should receive such a large chunk of U.S. foreign assistance; or, on the other hand, whether the strategic benefits to the United States more than justify the aid (this is being probed in an upcoming poll).

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