How much financial assistance has the US given Israel?

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President Joe Biden is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv.
President Joe Biden is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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Posted October 20, 2023 | Updated on Dec 18, 2023

In short: After the latest Israel-Hamas war broke out Oct. 7 and Israel began a siege on the Gaza Strip, President Joe Biden announced $100 million in “humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.” Biden also sent Congress a request on Oct. 20 for $14.3 billion in aid for Israel. While the U.S. and Israel have what has historically been called a “special relationship,” the U.S. has given funds directly to the Palestinian territories as well and is often among the top donors to a United Nations agency that runs Palestinian refugee camps.  

When did U.S. aid to Israel start?

The U.S. has been giving aid to Israel since 1948, when it became a state.

U.S. aid to Israel has largely been direct giving (also called bilateral aid), for three goals:

  • Military: money given to Israel to build up its armed forces and its private defense industry, “which now ranks as one of the top global arms exporters”
  • Economic: aid that is meant to improve a country’s industry to meet “near-term political, economic and development needs,” according to the U.S. State Department
  • Missile defense: money approved by Congress for U.S.-Israel missile defense programs, where “Israel and the United States each contribute financially to several weapons systems and engage in co-development, co-production, and/or technology sharing in connection with them.”

In total, the U.S. has given Israel “$318 billion since the end of World War II,” according to PolitiFact. It’s given the Palestinian territories more than $11 billion since 1950.

How has U.S. aid changed?

In the first few decades of U.S. aid to Israel, the amounts were "relatively small.” From 1949 to 1973, the U.S. gave Israel a total of $3.1 billion – $700 million less than it receives annually under a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel.

Between 1970 and 1979, the U.S. gave Israel a total of $16.3 billion.

Israel initially “received significant economic and humanitarian aid along with military aid. However, as Israel has become wealthier, the U.S. has dramatically reduced its economic and humanitarian aid, while continuing its military aid,” according to PolitiFact.

How wealthy is Israel?

In 2020, Israel was among the “top 20 economies in the world” based on its per capita GDP. That year, Israel’s GDP per capita – a country’s total value of goods and services produced divided by the total population – was $52,200. By comparison, Canada’s GDP per capita was $52,400 and the U.S.’ was around $70,200.

Between 1949 and 1959, only .06% of U.S. aid to Israel was for military assistance. In 2021, 99.8% of U.S. aid to Israel was military, according to USAID’s foreign assistance database.

A $38 billion "Memorandum of Understanding"

Some of Israel’s military funding comes from the 10-year “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) the U.S. and Israel signed in 2016. The agreement guarantees Israel $3.3 billion in U.S. military aid each year and an additional $500 million for missile defense funding through 2028. The total aid will be $38 billion. This is the third 10-year MOU the U.S. and Israel have signed since 1981. ­­

What is aid like now?

Israel is set to receive at least $3.8 billion per year from the MOU until 2028. Biden also requested $14.3 billion for Israel from Congress on Oct. 20 – part of a $105 billion package that would also include money for Ukraine, Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific region, humanitarian aid, and security at the southern U.S. border.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has signaled the bill is likely to pass the Senate, although the House has been unable to elect a speaker, putting any other voting on hold.