It was the most orchestrated photo op of the year. And even if Tuesday's White House meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was more show than action, it did reinforce what Capitol Hill and America's taxpayers already know: Israel is America's best buddy in the Middle East, and the dollars Washington sends Jerusalem proves that. More than any other nation, including war-torn Iraq, Israel gets the most U.S. aid, according to the Feds.
The relationship between the United States and Israel has historically been characterized by generosity. Data from the U.S. Agency for International Development and from State Department budgets show that Israel has, since 1946, been the top recipient of U.S. aid, and continues to play a big part in the United States foreign assistance budget.
According to the USAID Greenbook, which quantifies all U.S. overseas loans and grants from 1946 through 2008, Israel has received over $34 billion from the United States, since 1951. This puts it ahead of other top recipients Iraq ($31.4 billion), Egypt ($29.6 billion), India ($15.5 billion), and Russia ($13.9). Meanwhile, aid to the West Bank/Gaza region, which began in 1988, has totaled $2.7 billion. This puts the West Bank and Gaza at 41 on the list of 202 countries and regions that have received U.S. aid since 1946.
In addition, State Department budgets show that since 2008, Israel's place in U.S. foreign spending has remained undiminished. The fiscal year 2011 budget contains a proposed $3 billion for Israel. All of this money is appropriated for foreign military financing, a program that helps foreign countries to purchase weapons and defense equipment produced in the United States., as well as military training. This $3 billion comprises 42 percent of the total assistance to the Near East region.
The 2011 budget also provides $550.4 million for the West Bank and Gaza, toward the purposes of narcotics control and law enforcement, as well as economic development and security programs.
- See who in Congress gets the most from pro-Israel groups.
- See photos of the Obamas abroad.
- See the members of Obama's inner circle.