An arms deal between Israel and Croatia highlights the US overindulgent military aid policy toward Israel. Today, thanks to our generosity, Israel has developed advanced military products, and is winning arms export contracts out from under us
by Kathryn Shihadah
Trump disapproves of Croatia’s shopping spree
The Trump administration is scrambling to block a $500 million arms deal between Israel and Croatia – a deal which would have been a win for the US economy and employment figures, if Israel weren’t in contention.
In Croatia’s shopping cart are 12 surplus U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, originally purchased from the US with US military aid money. Israel has refurbished and upgraded the jets with “new and sophisticated Israeli made electronic systems” to make them attractive to Croatia. Sticker price: about $500 million.
US officials are “furious” that not only did the US not get the deal, but Israel is selling the equipment without American permission, as required. RT explains, “Arms deals usually have strict rules on the end user, prohibiting the resale, of the weapons delivered, to a third party.”
Croatian officials insist that the arms sale is moving ahead without a hitch.
Assuming the sale to Croatia goes forward, US industry will have lost jobs and a sizable improvement in its balance sheet.
How did Israel become our rival?
Standard practice for military aid to other countries requires that it be used to purchase arms from the US, but of the $3+ billion the US gives every year to Israel, 26.3% can be spent in Israel “to purchase home-grown equipment.”
According to Congressional Research Service, “no other recipient of U.S. military assistance has been granted this benefit.” This “offshore procurement,” plus other fine-print allowances, amounts to an infusion of around $1.2 billion per year of US aid into Israel’s domestic budget (40% of the aid to Israel) rather than back into US coffers.*
No doubt this boost to the Israeli economy, plus all the other financial perks from the US – both government and private – contributed to Israel’s ability to invest in high-tech arms and software development.
Israel’s offerings in the military sector include high-tech spyware; Edward Snowden believes Israeli spyware was used to help track the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was subsequently murdered.
In 2017 alone, Israel’s military exports totaled $9.2 billion – a 40% increase over 2016 – sales for which the US was competing, sales which would have helped the American economy considerably.
Congress’ extravagant spending on Israeli military aid, which peace- and justice-loving Americans have protested for decades, is coming home to roost.
Our beneficiary is putting us out of business.
*National Interest describes a recent example of how Israel gets around U.S. regulations in order to spend U.S. military aid on its own companies rather than on American ones: Lockheed-Martin has mostly refused to allow major country-specific modifications to its F-35s. Israel, however, managed to procure an exception. NI reports that Israel “negotiated a favorable deal in which billions of dollars worth of F-35 wings and sophisticated helmet sets would be manufactured in Israel, paid for with U.S. military aid. Furthermore, depot-level maintenance will occur in a facility operated by Israeli Aeronautics Industries rather than at a Lockheed facility abroad.”
Kathryn Shihadah is a staff writer for If Americans Knew.