USA’s $3.8 billion annual sponsorship of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians

According to news reports, the deal reached between the Obama administration and the Israeli government will see the amount of military aid the US gives to Israel, which already receives more US military aid than any other country, increase from $3.1 billion to at least $3.8 billion annually over the next decade, starting in 2018.

Diana Buttu, Ramallah-based political analyst, former advisor to Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian negotiators:

“This increase in the already massive amount of weaponry that the US gives Israel highlights the confused and contradictory policies of the Obama administration when it comes to Israel and Palestine. When he took office in 2009, President Obama called for an end to Israel’s illegal construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land, which are a major obstacle to peace in the region, in order to facilitate a return to negotiations to end Israel’s nearly 50-year-old military occupation and create an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“Nearly eight years later, after repeated insults, snubs, and efforts by senior Israeli officials to sabotage both American attempts to make peace and the Iranian nuclear deal, Obama is giving Prime Minister Netanyahu the largest military aid package in American history. This is the very definition of rewarding bad behavior. Moreover, President Obama is the only US president since 1967 who has prevented the UN Security Council from censuring Israel for its violations of international law.

“This military aid package should be viewed in light of the fact that Israel now has the most racist and extreme right-wing government in its history, which has accelerated the destruction of Palestinian homes and construction of Israeli-only settlements, and shown no indication whatsoever that it is interested in ending its occupation of Palestinian lands or reaching a lasting peace agreement.

“Rather than increasing military aid, which is effectively a green light to Israel to continue its illegal and destructive policies, President Obama and his successor must begin to stand up to Israeli leaders and make US aid contingent on Israel granting Palestinians their freedom and rights.”

Yousef Munayyer, Political analyst at the Arab Center of Washington, DC, executive director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and former executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center:

“Four days ago, the State Department slammed Israel’s settlement building, destruction of Palestinian homes, land seizure and displacement of Palestinians, and stated bluntly that these actions raise questions about Israel’s intentions toward peace. In the coming days, the United States will give Israel the largest weapons handout in American history. Juxtaposed, these events highlight the abject failure of the United States to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to Israel policy. Is it any wonder that Netanyahu feels he can persistently bite the hand that feeds him and get away with it?

“With this commitment, the United States is once again giving Israel a stamp of approval for a military occupation that just entered its 50th year, and what amounts to an Israeli military dictatorship that rules over millions of Palestinians who have no right to vote in the state that rules their lives. President Obama may point to this as an example of his efforts to support Israel despite his difficult relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but in the long run history will record that Obama helped support and prolong Israel’s apartheid policies, even as the world was increasingly turning against them.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a national organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all the people of Israel and Palestine. JVP is one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in the United States, with more than 60 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters:

“Just a few months after Palestinians in the occupied territories began their 50th year living under repressive Israeli military rule, the United States is once again committing to a decade of increased military aid to Israel, despite that country’s deplorable human rights record. The main beneficiaries of this unprecedented amount of aid will be not just the Israeli military, but also the U.S. arms industry.

“At a time when the U.S. claims to oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements built illegally on occupied Palestinian land, increasing the military aid package is rewarding destructive Israeli behavior that violates longstanding official US policy and international law. As a result, the US is effectively underwriting Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies towards the Palestinians.”

Tareq Baconi, Policy Analyst for Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute:

“This Memorandum of Understanding, the largest military pledge by the US to any country in America’s history, will firm up President Obama’s legacy as a one of the presidents most supportive of Israel and most willing to sustain its military occupation of the Palestinian territories. This is a sad and disappointing twist given President Obama’s exposure to and understanding of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, and the early hopes he raised regarding his ability to take a tough stance on Israel’s failure to address the question of Palestinian self-determination.

“One would hope that this aid package is a tactical move to free President Obama’s hands for a final defining act that would at the very least align US actions with its own stated policies on Israel’s settlements. In the absence of a swift corrective in Obama’s final months as president, this pledge would simply be an exceedingly generous use of US taxpayer money to reward Israel’s violation of international law and its intransigence towards the Obama administration. It would also maintain America’s role as a key sponsor of Israel’s militarized oppression of Palestinians.”