Blood money

Israel, U.S. formally sign new defense agreement - Haaretz

Israel and the United States signed Thursday the Memorandum of Understanding on the new American defense package for Israel. Under the new aid agreement, the U.S. will transfer $30 billion to Israel over 10 years, compared with $24 billion over the past decade.

Israel is slated to receive the first pay out in October 2008, amounting to $2.550 billion. That sum will grow each year by $150 million, until it reaches $3.1 billion in 2011.

In addition, the agreement permits Israel to convert into shekels 26.3 percent of the aid money, thereby enabling it to procure defense equipment from Israeli companies. The rest of the aid must be used to purchase equipment from American military industries.
That last part, about being able to purchase from Israeli companies, shows the extent to which the lobby works in favor of Israel, not the United States. Most military aid deals, while they may have valid strategic or diplomatic reasons, are supported in Congress because they generate business for the armaments industry and create jobs and economic activity in a wide range of states. That is probably the most important facet of the recent $20 billion aid program for Arab Gulf states. But in this case, American taxpayer money is not even going to be spent on American firms, with a sizable chunk going instead to Israel's military-industrial complex, one of the backbones of the occupation.

Incidentally, the fact that this agreement went through today meant that Egypt has already agreed to the changes in ratio in US military aid to Cairo and Tel Aviv. When was this done? When Omar Suleiman went to DC several weeks ago, separately from Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit? When Condoleeza Rice was in Sharm al-Sheikh as part of her military aid tour? Egyptians, you can ask yourself why your government has not told you that the Camp David agreement was amended.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.