Both Security and Justice

for Palestinians as well as Israelis

U.S. Military Aid to Israel [Wikipedia URL]

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Military relations between Israel and the United States have been extremely[peacock term] close,[1] reflecting shared security interests in the Middle East.[2][3]


Israel is the largest total recipient of direct economic and military assistance from the United States since World War II, and it was the largest annual recipient from 1976 to 2003. Since the Iraq War began in 2003, Iraq has overtaken Israel as the largest annual recipient of U.S. aid.[4][5] A major purchaser and user of U.S. military equipment, Israel is also involved in the joint development of military technology and regularly engages in joint military exercises involving United States and other friendly forces.[2][3]


The relationship has deepened gradually over time, though, as Alan Dowty puts it, it was "not a simple linear process of growing cooperation, but rather a series of tendentious bargaining situations with different strategic and political components in each."[6]


During the Obama administration these relations reached new levels, with the two countries prepared to function in wartime as joint task forces.[7]



Following the Second World War, the “new postwar era witnessed an intensive involvement of the United States in the political and economic affairs of the Middle East, in contrast to the hands-off attitude characteristic of the prewar period. [U]nder Truman the United States had to face and define its policy in all three sectors that provided the root causes of American interests in the region: the Soviet threat, the birth of Israel, and petroleum.”[8]


During the first twenty years following Israel's independence, United States policy in the Middle East was driven by two major policy concerns: The prevention of an arms race in the Near East,[9] and the prevention of the spread of Soviet influence. The Eisenhower Administration promulgated the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 for these reasons, as well as to guarantee the territorial status quo determined by 1949 Armistice Agreements. Israel's main military patron at the time was France, which supported Israel by providing it with advanced military equipment and technology, such as the Dassault Mystère fighter-bomber aircraft. Initially, the U.S. government resisted pressure by Israel and Arab countries in the region to sell them advanced weapons. In response to the supply of advanced fighter aircraft by the USSR to Iraq and the United Arab Republic, the U.S. government agreed to sell MIM-23 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel in 1962, as a "specific action designed to meet a specific situation" which "by no means constitutes change in U.S. policy in area.". The Hawk system was approved on the grounds that it was a "purely defensive" weapon.[9] Later, when Jordan threatened to turn to the USSR for weapons, the U.S. agreed to sell tanks and jet aircraft to Jordan in order to prevent the spread of Soviet influence, and in return, agreed to sell similar systems to Israel.[10]


During the early 1960s, the U.S. government sought to establish a regional arms limitation agreement in the Middle East. The initiative lost steam in early 1965 after it was disclosed that the U.S. had been indirectly supplying weapons to Israel via West Germany since 1962, under the terms of a 1960 secret agreement to supply Israel with $80 million worth of armaments. The remainder of the agreement was fulfilled publicly, following its disclosure by the U.S., with Israel receiving shipments of M48 Patton tanks in 1965 and A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft in 1968.[11]


U.S. policy changed markedly after the Six-Day War of 1967, in response to a perception that many Arab states (notably Egypt) had permanently drifted toward the Soviet Union. In 1968, with strong support from Congress, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson approved the sale of F-4 Phantom II fighters to Israel, establishing the precedent for U.S. support for Israel's qualitative[clarification needed] military edge over its neighbors. The U.S., however, would continue to supply arms to Israel's neighbors, particularly Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, in order to counter Soviet arms sales and influence in the region.[citation needed]


During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the U.S. mounted a major airlift codenamed Operation Nickel Grass to deliver weapons and supplies to Israel. Over 22,000 tons of tanks, artillery, ammunition, and other materiel were delivered to aid the Israeli military in response to a large-scale Soviet resupply effort of the Arab states. The operation was paralleled by a large-scale sealift of some 33,000 tons of materiel and the transfer of 40 F-4 Phantoms, 36 A-4 Skyhawks and twelve C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to replace Israeli war losses.[12]


Bilateral military cooperation deepened under the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s. In 1981, U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Israeli Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon signed the Strategic Cooperation Agreement, establishing a framework for continued consultation and cooperation to enhance the national security of both countries. In November 1983, the two sides formed a Joint Political Military Group, which still meets twice a year, to implement most provisions of the MOU.[13] Joint air and sea military exercises began in June 1984, and the United States has constructed facilities to stockpile military equipment in Israel.


In 1987, the United States granted Israel the status of major non-NATO ally, enabling it to compete equally with NATO and other US allies for contracts and purchase advanced US weapons systems. Israel became the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world (see military aid below).[3] In 1988, Reagan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize and perpetuate the work of the bilateral US-Israel military, security and economic working groups.[13]


In an effort to prevent Israel from retaliating against Iraqi SS-1 Scud missile attacks during the Persian Gulf war of 1991, and thereby breaking up the US-Arab coalition, the US dispatched MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries to Israel. The effort met with very limited success, with less than 10% and perhaps as few as none of the Scuds fired against Israel intercepted successfully.[14]


Under the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s, the US government made efforts to bolster the Israeli government's military edge by allowing it to purchase $700m of the latest U.S. military equipment, including advanced fighters, attack helicopters and the Joint Direct Attack Munition system. A series of major joint military technology development projects was also instituted.[2]


Further extensive military cooperation took place under the George W. Bush administration, with Israel placing major orders for F-16I multirole fighters. During the 2006 Lebanon War, the United States provided a major resupply of jet fuel and precision-guided munition to replenish depleted Israeli stocks.[2]


Wikipedia URL


See also Chicago Hearing and Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine