Will Trump’s Peace Deals Bring Self Sufficient Israeli Military?

Written By Yehuda Steiner, Posted on September 23, 2020

An often controversial topic to people across the political spectrum is US foreign aid to Israel. Critics on the far-left who oppose much of Israel’s policy, especially in Judea & Samaria (the West Bank), say that the US should use the aid to leverage Israel’s policy and positions in the Israel-Palestine conflict and that the US shouldn’t be sending money to any foreign militaries when not everyone in the US has healthcare, etc. Others argue that the US is heavily in debt and that the foreign military aid is a waste of money. 

Trump’s recent peace deals in the Middle East between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and more expected to come provides a great opportunity to gradually lower US military aid to Israel while at the same not risking Israel’s security in the face of hostile foreign powers or terrorism.

Hamas launching rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

Hamas launching rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

How the peace deal helps 

I am of the opinion that the money is well spent, it is an investment in peace in the region, most of it is recycled back into the US defence industry, the US gets intelligence from Israel, military tech, anti-terrorist training, the Iron Dome missile defence system will be used to protect US troops, medical R&D and much more. 

However, I am also of the opinion that the current scale of aid is increasingly necessary and should be discontinued. Why is this, you ask, considering all that both countries gain from the program? 

The first, and most important reason, is that Israel is no longer a developing nation, as it was in the 1970s when the aid first began. They have made peace with many of their neighbours, they are not under threat from any methods of conventional warfare, outside of the Islamic Republic which they fight together with the Sunni coalition, including their new friends the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. They are fully capable of paying their own defence bills, and can afford to buy or manufacture weapons on their own. This will benefit Israel as reducing dependency on US weapons and will create jobs in the Israeli market. 

Another point to remember, there are many rising figures in the Democrat Party who are hostile to Israel, including near-Democrat Presidential nominee Bernie Sanders. If they were to God forbid take control of US foreign policy Israel may be immediately cut off from all the aid leaving them in a very vulnerable situation. In this situation, Israel ends up completely high and dry, as most of its arms imports are from the US and their own innovation and industry won’t kick in fast enough to fill the supply need.

Israel Defence Force (IDF) soldiers.

Israel Defence Force (IDF) soldiers.

Something else to be wary of, despite the reduced risk from conventional war due to their newly forged friendships, it has happened in the past that after peace deals were signed, there was an increase in violence from the Palestinians. So I am definitely not advocating for an immediate cutoff, rather for a slow transition of who the IDF is militarily dependent on. 

An added benefit would be reducing anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiment in the United States, and possibly even in other countries. There is an oft repeated tale about Israeli influence over US foreign policy and the power of the mythical “Jewish Lobby”. This is mostly nonsense, but antisemites and people with a malicious anti-Israel bent spin it into something larger than life, convincing people who don’t know any better to buy into it. Ending US aid will destroy these false narratives. 

Moreover, the US clearly already has a strong relationship with Israel, they would get a better run for their money developing ties with other countries, or spending the money in the US, while continuing the relationship with Israel on other terms, through the existing programs that the US benefits from and creating a way for Israel to get it’s worth back. From Israel’s perspective, aid also gives the US large control over Israel’s growing arms industry and their relationships with other countries, as well as domestic policy to a certain extent. 

Israel should still take into consideration the needs of the Department of Defence when it comes to arms deals and its overall foreign policy, avoiding China for example using aid to box Israel in completely, leaving no options even for alternative arms procurement. It would be detrimental to everyone if the relationship ended, but as it is now, it forces Israel to be completely reliant on a foreign superpower for its defence, not something the tiny and constantly threatened Jewish State should want.

Yehuda Steiner

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