NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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President Obama has requested $3 billion in security assistance to Israel for fiscal year 2011. Israel uses the aid to protect itself against a wide range of regional threats.
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Aid to Israel is included in the president's proposed $39.4 billion foreign aid budget. The foreign aid budget comprises only about one percent of the overall federal budget.

Obama Budget Includes $3 Billion in Israel Aid

As part of his $3.8 trillion budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2011, President Obama has asked for $3 billion in military aid to Israel—a $225 million increase from fiscal year 2010.

The president's request reflects the third year of the 10-year, $30 billion U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding. In that agreement, signed in 2007, Israel is slated to receive gradual increases in aid for the first four years before leveling off at $3.1 billion per year for the remaining six years.

The president has also requested $25 million for the United Israel Appeal in order to help the Israeli government resettle Jewish refugees escaping persecution.

Aid to Israel is included in the president's proposed $39.4 billion foreign aid budget. The foreign aid budget comprises only about one percent of the overall federal budget.

Obama's budget request categorizes foreign aid as security spending. This classification means that foreign aid is exempt from the president's call for a three-year freeze on discretionary spending.
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Obama Requests $550.4 Million for Palestinian Authority

The foreign aid bill includes much more than U.S. security assistance to Israel. President Obama has requested $550.4 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority. Of that amount, $400.4 million will be used to "strengthen the Palestinian Authority as a credible partner in Middle Eastern peace and continue to respond to humanitarian needs in Gaza," according to the budget description.

This money, the administration said, "will provide significant resources to support the stability of the PA, economic development of the West Bank, and increase the capacity of the PA to meet the needs of its people."

The president's budget request does not specify how much of the $400.4 million will go for traditional project aid and how much will go directly to the PA's treasury.

The remaining $150 million of aid to the PA is slated for security assistance, which the Obama administration said will "support efforts to reform the security sector by training and equipping Palestinian Authority National Security Forces." U.S. Gen. Keith Dayton has overseen this West Bank program since 2005. BACK TO TOP

Other Arab Countries

Egypt—the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel—will receive $1.55 billion. Jordan will get $661.5 million

In addition, the Obama administration has asked Congress for $109 million to support "Lebanon's democracy by fostering credible, transparent institutions at all levels; strengthening the role of an active civil society; supporting the independence and efficiency of the judicial system; and promoting tolerance and rejecting extremism. Funds will also be used to educate youth, create employment opportunities, and expand access to microfinance." The administration has also requested $100 million in military assistance for the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Other Middle Eastern countries slated to receive some combination of U.S. economic and security assistance include Bahrain ($19.5 million), Morocco ($15 million), Oman ($13 million), Tunisia ($4.9 million) and Yemen ($80 million). BACK TO TOP

What's Next?

The president's budget request is just the first step of the legislative process. Next, the House and Senate Budget Committees will review the president's proposals and create a budget resolution, which is then voted on in each chamber.

These bills will establish priorities on how much Congress can spend in broad areas such as national defense, international affairs, science, education, transportation and agriculture.

The budget resolutions serve as a guide to appropriators who will specify dollar amounts for specific programs, such as aid to Israel.
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