How they see us: Is $38 billion too little aid for Israel?
The record military aid package handed to Israel last week by the U.S. is a “landmark in the partnership between the two countries,” said Abraham Ben-Zvi in Israel Hayom. The agreement provides $38 billion to Israel over 10 years, up from $31 billion in the previous decade and the largest military aid deal the U.S. has ever offered to any ally. “Considering the U.S. administration’s cuts to the American military budget in recent years,” this increase is all the more remarkable, a true testament to the strength of the alliance. The U.S. clearly “sees Israel as a strategic asset of the highest order,” an island of democratic stability in the turbulent and dangerous Middle East.
Look closer, and you’ll see that the deal is far from historic, said Itamar Eichner in Yedioth Ahronoth. Weapons systems’ prices have rocketed up over the past decade, so the $38 billion Israel is due to receive over the next decade is actually worth less than the $31 billion we were sent over the past 10 years. The aid would have been greater but for the arrogance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Ha’aretzin an editorial. When discussions began last year, “Obama wanted to give Israel much more”— about $7 billion more—on condition that Netanyahu did not try to undermine the nuclear pact his administration was working out with Iran. But Netanyahu rejected that offer and publicly lobbied the U.S. Congress against the Iran deal. Those “attempts to sabotage White House policy” exacted a high price. That’s why the new aid package comes with significant restrictions, said Nahum Barnea in Yedioth Ahronoth. In the past, Congress would top up aid deals by appropriating extra money for Israel each year. But the new deal bars Israel from asking Congress for more military aid, and compels it to return any extra funding that Congress gives it unasked. Further, Israel used to be the only U.S. ally that received some of its military aid in cash so it could buy weapons from its own defense industries. But in the future, U.S. aid will be supplied only by U.S. companies. Of course, “the budget for purchases in Israel harmed the American defense industries, so its cancellation is justified.” But politicians on both the Left and Right are now complaining that the package will cost this country defense sector jobs.
We need to stop moaning and thank Obama for being a staunch friend of Israel, said Uri Pilichowski in The Jerusalem Post. For all his differences with Netanyahu, he is “the only president to have a 100 percent voting record on Israel in the United Nations,” instructing his ambassadors to vote against every resolution condemning Israel. It was his pressure that brought about the U.N.’s first session on anti-Semitism, and it was he who prevented the Palestinians from unilaterally declaring an independent state. In accepting this unprecedented aid package, Israelis should “show genuine gratitude to Obama.”