U.S. Arms Transfers and Security Assistance to Israel
An Arms Trade Resource Center Fact Sheet
by William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan
May 6, 2002
U.S. press coverage of Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Authority
and Palestinian towns on the West Bank often treat the U.S. government
as either an innocent bystander or an honest broker in the current
conflict, often without giving a full sense of the importance of the
United States role as a supplier of arms, aid, and military technology
to Israel. In its role as Israel?s primary arms supplier, the United
States could exert significant potential leverage over Israeli
behavior in the conflict, if it chooses to do so.
Military and Economic Aid
Since 1976, Israel had been the largest annual recipient of U.S.
foreign assistance. According to a November 2001 Congressional
Research Service report, Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance, U.S. aid to
Israel in the last half century has totaled a whopping $81.3 billion.
In recent years, Israel remains the top recipient of U.S. military and
economic assistance. The most commonly cited figure is $3 billion a
year, with about $1.8 billion a year in Foreign Military Financing
(FMF) grants from the Department of Defense and an additional $1.2
billion a year in Economic Support Funds (ESF) from the Department of
State. In the last decade FMF grants to Israel have totaled $18.2
billion. In fact, 17% of all U.S. foreign aid is earmarked for Israel.
For 2003, the Bush administration is proposing that Israel receive
$2.76 billion in foreign aid, with $2.1 billion in FMF and $600
million in ESF. An additional $28 million will go to Israel for the
purchase U.S. manufactured counter terrorism equipment.
Weapons Sales and Grants
Israel is one of the United State?s largest arms importers. In the
last decade, the United States has sold Israel $7.2 billion in
weaponry and military equipment, $762 million through Direct
Commercial Sales (DCS), more than $6.5 billion through the Foreign
Military Financing (FMF) program.
In fact, Israel is so devoted to U.S. military hardware that it has
the world's largest fleet of F-16s outside the U.S., currently
possessing more than 200 jets. Another 102 F-16s are on order from
The United States has also underwritten Israel?s domestic armaments
industry, by giving:
* $1.3 billion to develop the Lavi aircraft (cancelled)
* $625 million to develop and deploy the Arrow anti-missile
missile (an ongoing project)
* $200 million to develop the Merkava tank (operative); the latest
version, the Merkava 4, uses a German V-12 diesel engine produced
under license in the U.S. by General Dynamics
* $130 million to develop the high-energy laser anti-missile system (ongoing).
While overall aid to Israel is slated to decrease over the next five
years, military aid will increase significantly. One of President
Clinton?s last acts was to sign an agreement with Israel, phasing out
the ESF by 2008. At the same time, FMF funds to Israel will increase
$60 million each year, reaching $2.4 billion by 2008.
Free Weapons to Israel
The U.S. also gives Israel weapons and ammunition as part of the
Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program, providing these articles
completely free of charge. Between 1994-2001 the U.S. provided many
weapons through this program, including:
* 64,744 M-16A1 rifles
* 2,469 M-204 grenade launchers
* 1,500 M-2 .50 caliber machine guns
* .30 caliber, .50 caliber, and 20mm ammunition
For specifics on the types of weapons and how are they used go to