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Insatiable demand for more missiles and more US money

Part of the Iron Dome system, positioned near Beersheba as a defence against rockets from Gaza. Photo by Reuters.

Here’s How Much America REALLY Spends On Israel’s Defense

Michael Kelley, Business Insider
September 20, 2012

Last week [September 9, 2012] the Jerusalem Post reported that former Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Commander-in-Chief Gabi Ashkenazi told a conference that U.S. taxpayers have contributed more to the Israeli defense budget than Israeli taxpayers in the past three years.

This comment has been passed around everywhere.

Alison Weir of Veterans News Now pointed out it was the first instance of an Israeli leader saying that U.S. taxpayers contribute more money to Israel’s defense budget than Israeli taxpayers.
But the claim seemed fishy to us.

Given that U.S. military aid to Israel was $2.775 billion in 2010, $3 billion in 2011, $3.07 billion in 2012 (and $3.15 billion per year from 2013-2018) while Israel’s defense budget is around $15 billion, it made us wonder how much Israeli taxpayers contribute and where the other $12 billion non-U.S. aid comes from.

We emailed Shmuel Even, an expert of Israel’s defense at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who told us that Israel’s up-to-date defense budget for 2012 is $15 billion, with 70 percent contributed by Israeli taxpayers, 21 percent coming from U.S. aid and 9 percent coming from Defense Ministry income.

That would put the Israeli taxpayer contribution at $10.5 billion, compared to $3.15 billion from the U.S. (Even added that the U.S. aid in 2011 was $3.1 billion and that most of the aid comes in weapons as opposed to cash.)

So was Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi—who served as the IDF supreme commander from 2007 to 2011—simply mistaken? Or is he alluding to something that one of Israel’s top researchers doesn’t know?

Shmuel Even watched the video of Ashkenazi’s speech and said the former IDF chief  “said it, but I don’t know why.”

Even added that Ashkenazi “also said that the U.S. military aid is $3B. So he knows the numbers.”


US seeks extra $70m for Israel defence shield

Pentagon requests Congress to provide Israel with additional funding for its “Iron Dome” missile defence programme.

By Al Jazeera
May 18, 2012

The US plans to give Israel the extra $70m that it asked for this year for its short-range missile defence programme known as the “Iron Dome,” Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary has said.

Panetta on Thursday said his department would seek additional funding for the programme over the next three years “based on an annual assessment of Israeli security requirements”.

He said Barack Obama, the US president, had directed him to fill Israel’s request for the extra money for the system, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars.

Panetta’s statement came after a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The US has already provided $205m for the system and annually gives Israel roughly another $3.1bn in overall security assistance, the most for any foreign country.

However, top Republicans have criticised Obama for what they described as inadequate funding of US-Israeli missile defence co-operation in his 2013 budget request, released in February amid deficit-reduction requirements.

Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request calls for $30bn in funding for Israel over a 10-year peried, none of which was scheduled to fund Iron Dome.

‘Highly appreciative’
Legislation moving through the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives would give Israel an additional $680m for the Iron Dome system through 2015, and some members are seeking a deal with Israel to share production of the programme with US weapons manufacturers.

“My goal is to ensure Israel has the funding it needs each year to produce these batteries that can protect its citizens,” Panetta’s statement said.

He said the $70m would be provided this fiscal year, which ends in September.

“This is assistance that, provided Congress concurs, we can move quickly, to ensure no shortage in this important system,” Panetta said.

Barak meanwhile spoke to reporters after meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington later on Thursday.

“I was at the Pentagon,” he said. “And we are highly appreciative of the approach of this administration, of the secretary, secretary of defence and of course of the president in regard to the security of Israel, making sure that in our tough neighbourhood, Israel will be strong and secure.”

The additional funding for Israel requires US congressional approval before it is allocated – something it is likely to get.

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