Even as the conflict between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas rages on, the United States House of Representatives approved substantial military aid of $14.5 billion to Israel on November 2. Despite the substantial scale of US aid to Israel, historical data indicate that Israel has been consistently receiving a significant amount of aid from the US over the past several decades. 

In fact, Israel was the top recipient of US military financing in 2022 at $3.3 billion. Israel is followed by Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Colombia, which received $1.2 billion, $425 million, $250 million, $210 million and $40 million, respectively. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the US tops the list of aid-providing countries in 2022, followed by Germany, Japan, and France. 

Long-term aid 

An analysis of the data from ForeignAssistance.gov, an official US government platform, shows that between 2001 and 2023, the US disbursed aid worth $677 billion to 213 countries. 

After the 9/11 attack and counterattack on Afghanistan, the aid to Afghanistan overshadowed assistance to all other countries in this millennium. Afghanistan received $111 billion between 2001 and 2023. The next most-favoured nation in receiving US aid was Israel at $65 billion, followed by Iraq at $64 billion. The share of these countries in total aid since 2001 was 16.5 per cent, 9.7 per cent, and 9.5 per cent, respectively. 

Aid to Israel has edged higher over the last two decades, from $2.7 billion in 2001 to $3.3 billion in 2022. In contrast, military aid to Egypt declined from $1.3 billion to $1.1 billion in the same period. Notably, Lebanon’s military aid, historically the lowest among West Asian countries, gradually increased from $74 million in 2011 to $210 million in 2022. 

According to experts, historically, the US was the first country to officially recognise the creation of the state of Israel, and has provided substantial financial assistance, particularly defense aid, since the end of World War II. In the case of Egypt, the US allocates significant military aid to maintain the balance of power in West Asia, a status quo established following the Israel-Egypt Camp David summit in 1979. The provision of military aid to Lebanon and Iraq is a component of the US foreign policy. 

Of the $65 billion in US aid provided to Israel, approximately 94 per cent constitutes military aid. Over the past two decades, military aid has significantly surpassed economic aid. According to the Journal of Palestine Studies, in 1998, a bilateral agreement between US President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led to the termination of the Economic Relief Fund and a subsequent increase in FMF. This shift resulted in a substantial decline in US economic aid to Israel, explaining the significant disparity in aid composition. 

The Congressional Research Service’s 2023 report highlights that over the course of two decades, the US and Israel have entered into three historic MoUs. Each successive MoU has witnessed a gradual increase in military aid. The MoU signed during the Clinton Administration (1999-2008) was for $21 billion, which subsequently rose to $30 billion in the MoU spanning the Bush Administration (2009-2018). The most recent MoU, covering the Obama Administration (2019-2028), guarantees $33 billion in military aid.