The United States committed over $3.3 billion in foreign assistance to Israel in 2022, the most recent year for which data exists. About $8.8 million of that went toward the country's economy, while 99.7% of the aid went to the Israeli military.
Israel received the second-largest amount of US aid in 2022 after Ukraine, where the US committed $12.4 billion. The two countries received 4.8% and 18.1%, respectively, of all foreign aid granted that year.
Adjusting for inflation, US aid to Israel from 1951 to 2022 totaled $317.9 billion, making it the largest recipient of American foreign aid since World War II.
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What is foreign aid?
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) defines foreign assistance as “activities funded from appropriations accounts that are made available for assistance for foreign countries, international organizations, and other foreign entities” without reciprocation. Foreign assistance can include, “funds, goods, services, and technical assistance.”
USAID classifies foreign aid as either military or economic. Military aid is primarily for the benefit of government armed forces. Economic aid supports broad economic development and sociopolitical stability and can include non-military support related to security. Most of the aid the United States grants is economic.
Between 1946 and 2022, the US has granted an annual average of $49.5 billion in inflation-adjusted foreign aid to countries and organizations worldwide.
Between 1951 and 2022, Israel received $225.2 billion in US military aid, adjusted for inflation, which is approximately 71% of its aid from all sources.
Since 2000, over 86% of annual American aid to Israel has funded military efforts. Annual foreign military financing grants from the United States represent about 16% of the Israeli military budget, according to the Congressional Research Service.
American assistance to Israel has come from government-to-government MOUs since 1999. Unlike treaties, they are not legally binding, and do not require Senate ratification.
USAID does not report missile defense funding from the Defense Department, meaning that the additional $500 million allocated annually is unaccounted for in the data.
How much economic aid does the US give Israel?
Between 1951 and 2022, Israel has received $92.7 billion in US economic aid, adjusted for inflation — approximately 29% of its aid from all sources.
For many years, US economic aid helped support the Israeli economy, but since the rapid expansion of Israel’s high-tech sector in the 1990s, the country has become fully industrialized. Consequently, US aid to Israel began to gradually phase out in the 21st century.
Since the early 2000s, economic aid to Israel has mainly gone toward humanitarian assistance for the resettlement of Jewish migrants, technological research and development, higher education, health care, and other areas.
Israel has been one of the top five US aid-receiving countries (which excludes aid to international organizations or broadly associated with regions) every year since 1971. Since 1974, it has been one of the top two aid recipients for all but six years.
US foreign assistance to Israel is part of broader regional spending.
Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq received the most American aid in 2019, the last year of complete data. The United States provided at least $3.1 billion in foreign assistance to support other Middle Eastern countries that same year.
The CRS reports that part of the American aid strategy in the Middle East and North Africa is maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” over neighboring countries. This approach involves giving Israel first access to, or more advanced versions of, US defense technology. It also offsets military sales to its neighbors with increased weapons packages or military aid to Israel. The strategy became law in the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008, which prohibited defense exports to non-Israeli countries in the Middle East that would hurt Israel’s military advantage.
The attacks and countermeasures have already resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries on both sides, along with Israeli citizens and military personnel being captured and held hostage.
Biden has urged Congress to “take urgent action to fund the national security requirements of our critical partners.” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has also indicated that the US is working with the Israeli government by sharing intelligence and sending military supplies to sustain the country’s Iron Dome defense systems.
The US has also enhanced its military presence in the region by moving aircraft carriers into the eastern Mediterranean Sea.