President Obama and his defenders are trumpeting the new aid agreement with Israel as proof that he is the best friend Israel ever had in the White House. In fact, it’s a bad deal and should be treated the same way Obama treated prior agreements he didn’t like: It should be forgotten by the next president. The White House may be saying this is the greatest deal ever, but in Israel many observers are saying that Obama did no favors for the Jewish state. That’s the conclusion Israeli journalists have all reached. They’re right.
The current aid agreement is for $3.1 billion a year. The new one is for $3.8 billion, but the increase is almost entirely illusory. Congress already appropriates hundreds of millions of dollars beyond the base $3.1 billion level for Israel’s missile defense, so the current aid level is actually about $3.5 billion. That means the total increase is roughly $300 million a year. But given inflation in the costs of military items, and the greater threat to Israel due to Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, the net result is at best continuation of the current aid agreement.
But Obama imposed two additional conditions that had never existed before and are absent in the aid agreement George W. Bush made with Israel in 2007. First, Israel must spend every dime in the United States after a phase-in period, meaning it cannot use the funds to purchase any military equipment made in Israel. Second, Israel has agreed that it will not go to Congress to seek additional funding under any circumstances.