U.S.-Israel Security Aid Agreement Prevents Congress from Giving Israel More Money in 2017 and 2018


As part of the new 10-year U.S.-Israel security aid agreement, the Israeli government signed a letter promising not to accept any money given by Congress for 2017 and 2018 above the levels in the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The Washington Post reports that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that manages the foreign affairs budget, said, “You know the White House pressured them into writing that letter. It is a level of antagonism against Israel that I can’t understand.”

Graham pointed out that Congress regularly increases foreign aid above the levels in MOUs when dealing with other countries. For example, Congress increased foreign aid to Jordan above its $1 billion annual allotment last year in light of that country’s refugee crisis.

Tamara Cofman Wittes, a Brookings Institution scholar and former Middle East official in the Obama administration, tweeted this week that Congress still has the right to appropriate whatever it wants.

Comparing the New Israel Aid Deal to the Previous Deal

Nahal Toosi and Bryan Bender of Politico reports that some experts are pushing back at the notion that the new U.S. military aid MOU provides much more than the current arrangement.

Col. Gilead Sher pointed out that Congress has added roughly $500 million every year on top of the estimated $3 billion a year given out under the current agreement.

“So the difference between the coming deal and the existing one would be just $300 million a year.”

Israel Could Ask for Additional U.S. Military Aid in Case of Emergency

Michael Wilner reports for the Jerusalem Post that Israel’s acting National Security Adviser Yaakov Nagel, who negotiated the new defense aid deal on Israel’s behalf, said Wednesday that the deal guarantees $5 billion over the next decade for missile defense and that Israel has obligated itself not to ask Congress for additional funds for this purpose. Nagel added that Israel can ask for additional funding in case of war, and that it also can ask for additional funding for other items, such as tunnel defense.

While under the current defense aid arrangement Israel was able to use 26% of the funds for procurement in Israel, under the new MOU that percentage will gradually decline, starting in the sixth year, until by the 10th year all the funds will have to be spent in the U.S. Nagel said that if under the current MOU, $7.8 billion could be spent in Israel, under the new MOU that number will drop to $5.6 billion. He stressed that the change will be done in a gradual manner, giving Israeli defense industries plenty of time to prepare for the new reality.

Nagel did not characterize his talks with the administration as “negotiations,” saying that this assistance is a gift. He added that at no time did anyone link the aid package and the Palestinian issue.

Netanyahu Thanks U.S. for New 10-Year Security Aid Package

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said Wednesday: “I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement. I also thank our many, many friends in the American Congress and among the American people for their great support….Many in the United States understand that investment in the security of Israel strengthens the stability of the unstable Middle East and serves not only our security interests but those of the United States as well.

“This agreement illustrates a simple truth: relations between Israel and the United States are strong and steadfast. This does not mean that we do not have disagreements from time to time, but these are disagreements within the family. They have no effect on the great friendship between Israel and the United States, a friendship that is expressed in this agreement, which will greatly assist us in continuing to build up Israel’s strength in the coming decade.”

{Andy Heller-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Nagel did not characterize his talks with the administration as “negotiations,” saying that this assistance is a gift.
    Yes it is, and a very generous one at that. Thank you to the Unites States, the richest, most powerful and most generous country in the world, for your aid to our Israeli brethren.

  2. Relax. It’s just a letter. President Trump will year it up in a heartbeat if necessary.

    And even if he doesn’t, if you believe Israel is restricted from accepting more money, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.