On September 23, the US Congress passed bipartisan legislation to allot $1 billion to restock the Iron Dome, Israel’s air defense system. Financing for this would be added to the pre-existing $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) that the US is scheduled to send to Israel in 2021. This effectively puts the total of FMF to Israel in 2021 at $4.3 billion, excluding the additional $500 million for joint US-Israeli research, development, and deployment of missile defense systems.
The funding the Israeli regime receives from the US is directly linked to the state-sponsored violence it practices against Palestinians. In May 2021, when the Palestinian Unity Intifada erupted following the Israeli regime’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, its attack on worshipers in the Aqsa mosque complex, and its vicious assault on Gaza, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace reported that, “Israel receives more FMF than all other countries in the world combined.” In the 2021 fiscal year alone, former US president Donald Trump’s administration initially requested $3.3 billion in FMF for Israel, constituting 59% of the requested global FMF budget. In the upcoming 2022 fiscal year, the Biden administration has requested to replicate it.
Since 2001, Israel has received over $63 billion in security assistance from the US, with over 90% of it funded by the State Department’s FMF program. The FMF, which is commonly known as “the blank check” to Israel, is funded by US tax dollars and comes in the form of weapons grants. The commitment to this level of funding was specifically instituted through a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, signed during former US president Barack Obama’s administration. And importantly, the funds are connected to larger weapons deals in the region, instituted by former US president Donald Trump as part of the Abraham Accords. Indeed, normalization agreements between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates are fundamentally first-rate weapons deals. Yet every US administration since the memorandum has failed to condemn Israel’s settler-colonial expansionism and its war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza.
Despite the ongoing financing of Israel’s war machine, the US’ long-standing commitment to militarily backing Israel is layered with new considerations in light of recent developments in Palestine, the US, and beyond. The Unity Intifada has garnered Palestinians unprecedented support from activists and policymakers across the world, and even in the halls of Capitol Hill. Palestinian mobilizations across colonized Palestine — from Gaza to Lydd to Jerusalem to Nablus — unified Palestinians across multiple fronts of society, and in spite of their geographic fragmentation, to push back against ethnic cleansing, settler-colonial violence, and apartheid.