AIPAC applauds the bipartisan group of 83 senators who sent a letter to President Barack Obama today backing increased aid to Israel under the current terms of America’s assistance program.
The senators emphasized to the president, “Most importantly, we urge you to conclude an agreement with Israel for a robust new MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] that increases aid while retaining the current terms of our existing aid program.” The senators also pledged to consider boosting support for U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs. The letter was initiated by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and was signed by a broad cross-section of the Senate—including the two leaders, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
Currently, the United States and Israel are negotiating a new MOU for security assistance to Israel. The senators’ letter states, “In light of Israel’s dramatically rising defense challenges, we stand ready to support a substantially enhanced new long-term agreement to help provide Israel the resources it requires to defend itself and preserve its qualitative military edge.” The letter further notes that “Israel remains a central pillar of our national strategy to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East.”
The letter specifies the numerous regional threats against Israel’s security driven by Iran, ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah. “Given the extraordinary levels of weapons pouring into the Middle East,” the letter notes, “Israel could quickly find itself on the wrong end of the regional military balance.” Consequently, the senators indicate that “the United States must enhance its investment in the long-term security requirements of our closest Middle East ally.”
In 1998, the United States and Israel signed their first 10-year MOU to increase security assistance to Israel while phasing out economic aid. Under that agreement, the United States committed to providing Israel $21.3 billion in security assistance. In 2007, America committed to provide $30 billion under the current 10-year MOU, which expires in 2018.