Israel’s Exceptional Security Partnership with Washington

Israel’s Exceptional Security Partnership with Washington, U.S. Announces $150M Aid Package to Ukraine, France Suspends CAR Aid & more



June 14, 2021

Israel’s Exceptional Security Partnership with Washington

Security Assistance Monitor, June 2021

A new brief from SAM looks at the exceptional elements of the Israeli military partnership with Washington that pose unique challenges to oversight, accountability, and civilian protection.

Israel is the largest historical recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, totaling more than $146 billion since 1950, equivalent to $236 billion in 2018 dollars, the vast majority coming in the form of military aid. But in the wake of Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza that killed over 243 Palestinians, including 63 children, and wrought untold physical damage on the densely populated enclave, advocates and lawmakers are raising questions about the wisdom and risks of the current U.S. security partnership with Israel, including the ways in which the partnership contravenes traditional norms, regulations, and statutes governing U.S. arms sales and security sector assistance.

Israel enjoys a number of unique military aid and arms sales privileges, including shortened arms sales notification windows, 10-year multibillion-dollar aid agreements, the ability to spend U.S.-funded assistance on its domestic arms industry, and many others. Some elements, like the absence of U.S. tracking of Israeli units receiving assistance, have a direct bearing on the ability of the U.S. to adhere to human rights and accountability provisions, including Leahy law vetting.  

For a full rundown of the privileges and exceptions Israel enjoys in its military partnership with Washington, read the full issue brief here

Security Assistance News & Research Roundup

News & Blog Post

The Hill, June 14

The United States will allocate another $150 million to Ukraine to help the country bolster its borders against Russia, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Breaking Defense, June 8

The U.S. State Department intends to send $120 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to Lebanon for FY2021 to help bolster the Lebanese Armed Force’s defense systems, services, and training. Additionally, France is planning to “organize an international conference” to support the country’s depleted forces after an economic collapse.

Breaking Defense, June 8

New details on the specifics of U.S. policy after the withdrawal from Afghanistan have come to light. Comments from government officials promising to maintain “sufficient strategic warning and ability to prevent threats from coming and reaching Americans” and to provide “assistance support… to the Afghan national security forces”, as well as the CIA’s ongoing efforts to establish regional bases of operation, suggest that U.S. security involvement in the country will not likely cease. 

defenceWeb, June 9

France recently suspended $12.18 million worth of aid and military support for the Central African Republic due to the government’s failure to put an end to “massive disinformation campaigns” against the European nation. However, France will keep around 300 soldiers in the country, and international missions are set to continue as normal. 

DefenseOne, June 9

Amidst a U.S. withdrawal, questions regarding how Afghan special operations forces will continue to train have almost been answered. “We want to work with Afghanistan from a NATO perspective and we’re in the process of looking at out-of-country special forces training in certain locations,” said General Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe. This training would ideally occur at a remote location, “probably somewhere in Europe.”

I24news, June 8

Public opinion polls in the United States show mixed results on the issue of U.S. assistance to Israel. While neither of the two central parties possesses a majority against military aid to Israel, Republican voters continue to show more support for the Middle Eastern nation than Democrats. 

defenceWeb, June 10

South Africa is sending a quick reaction force (QRF) to join the Force Intervention Brigade to better assist the Democratic Republic of Congo as it grapples with illegal armed groups. The QRF will not replace South African forces or other types of manpower currently present in the DRC, but will simply help bolster the country’s limited defense and security forces. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discusses military aid, Black and Azov Seas security with U.S.

UNIAN, June 7

A recent meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the specifics of increased military assistance from the United States to the eastern European nation. The concerns center around increased Russian activity in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Zelensky made clear that he believes that the Ukrainian position is “rather weak” in that region and that he hopes U.S. security assistance will help shore up those concerns.  

Research, Analysis, and Opinion  

Trump’s Transactional Follies: The Consequences of Treating the Arms Trade like a Business

The International Security Studies Forum, June 10

Author Jennifer Spindel examines how arms sales under the Trump administration largely represented a break from the more nuanced and politically-aware approach to arms sales under previous administrations. She argues that addressing the consequences – from a deemphasis on human rights to sleights to allies and boosts to adversaries – will require slowing down the process and a deeper consideration of what signals are sent in selling arms.

There is still time to stop the $735 million arms sale to Israel

Responsible Statecraft, June 9

Author William Hartung explains how the Biden administration can still stop the sale should it choose to do so, as well as the power lawmakers still have to prevent the munitions’ export. 


Why NATO Should Not Offer Ukraine And Georgia Membership Action Plans

War on the Rocks, June 8

Henrik Larson makes a plea against NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia in his article for War on the Rocks. He points out that the massive deployment of 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s border was a direct response to rumors of a path to membership opening up for Ukraine. He cites several reasons against their integration including domestic instability, Russian military aggression, untenable military assistance costs, and a lack of practical capability provided by the membership as evidenced by the situation of the Baltic states.


Data Fact of the Week:

Israeli Share of U.S. Foreign Military Financing Assistance

The graphic above illustrates the recipient breakdown of U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a U.S. foreign aid program that provides funds for foreign partners to purchase U.S. weapons. Israel has represented over 50% of U.S. FMF since FY2001, amounting to more than $58B dollars. 

The graphic comes from SAM’s latest issue brief on the exceptional arms relationship Israel maintains with the United States. To read the full brief click here

From The U.S. Government 


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6/14: Carnegie Connects: What Will the New Israeli Change Coalition Actually Change, hosted by Carnegie Endowment
6/15: Zapad 2021 and the Future of Russia’s Force Presence in Belarus, hosted by CSIS
6/15: The Ties That Bind, hosted by the Wilson Center
6/15: The Future of the Russia Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, hosted by the Hudson Institute
6/15: The art of war in an age of peace, hosted by the Brookings Institution
6/15: Russia resurrected: Its power and purpose in a new global order, hosted by the Brookings Institution
6/16: Future Foreign Policy: Global perceptions of the United States, hosted by the Atlantic Council
6/16: Preventing Catastrophe in Afghanistan, hosted by CSIS
6/16: Human Rights Violations in Black Sea Occupied Territories, hosted by the Middle East Institute
6/17: The refugee question in the Middle East: Towards sustainable solutions, hosted by the Atlantic Council
6/17: Patterns of Impunity: Human Rights in North Korea and the Role of the U.S. Special Envoy, hosted by CSIS
6/17: Iraqi Minorities’ Views on the Possibilities for Peace and Stability, hosted by USIP
6/18: Pandemic, Protests, and Warplanes: New Analysis on Taiwanese Public Opinion and Political Participation, hosted by the Stimson Center
6/21: How should the United States approach China and Russia?, hosted by the Brookings Institution
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