Last year, Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus said the US must reevaluate aid to Israel in light of our country's economic woes. Yesterday he revisited the issue and is aghast at the largess being thrown Israel's way while the US economy continues to struggle.
Should the United States put solving Israel’s budget problems ahead of its own?
When it comes to defense spending, it appears that the United States already is.
Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, will meet Thursday in Washington with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to finalize a deal in which the United States will provide an additional $680 million to Israel over three years. The money is meant to help pay for procuring three or four new batteries and interceptors for Israel’s Iron Dome short-range rocket defense program. The funds may also be used for the systems after their deployment, according to the report of the House Armed Services Committee on the fiscal 2013 Defense Authorization bill.
The Iron Dome funds, already in legislation before Congress, will be on top of the $3.1 billion in military aid grants being provided to Israel in 2013 and every year thereafter through 2017. That deal is part of a 10-year memorandum of understanding agreed to in 2007 during the George W. Bush presidency.
“Those funds are already committed to existing large-ticket purchases, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, C-130J transport planes and other items,” according to George Little, spokesman for Panetta. He also said the Israelis had increased their own spending on Iron Dome this year and the U.S. funds are to “augment” their funding.
And there’s more money involved. The House committee version of the defense authorization bill, up for debate on the House floor this week, includes another $168 million “requested by [the] Government of Israel to meet its security requirements,” according to the panel’s report. This money is to be added to three other missile defense systems that have been under joint development by the United States and Israel. The $168 million is in addition to another $99.9 million requested by the Obama administration for those programs.
Pincus goes on to outline how Israel's own economic troubles have led it to cut defense spending and raise taxes while our government continues to pump money in. Pretty sweet deal for Israel. In addition, he is upset the US is underwriting technology that it won't even have access to. He finishes:
So here is the United States, having added to its own deficit by spending funds that it must borrow, helping to procure a missile defense system for Israel, which faces the threat but supposedly can’t pay for it alone.
To add insult to injury, Pentagon officials must ask the Israeli government-owned company that is profiting from the weapons sales — including Iron Dome — if the United States can have a piece of the action.