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WLRN has partnered with PolitiFact to fact-check Florida politicians. The Pulitzer Prize-winning team seeks to present the true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases.

PolitFact FL: What to know about U.S. aid to Israel

Group of lawmakers gather around a podium
Stephanie Scarbrough
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. speaks to media about Israel while standing with other Republican Senators, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WLRN has partnered with PolitiFact to fact-check Florida politicians. The Pulitzer Prize-winning team seeks to present the true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases.

President Joe Biden is planning to ask Congress for more money to support Israel's military response to the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,400 Israelis.

"My administration has been in close touch with your leadership from the first moments of this attack, and we are going to make sure you have what you need to protect your people, to defend your nation," Biden said Oct. 18 during a visit to Tel Aviv.

The White House hasn’t produced a formal proposal yet, which could also include money for Ukraine as it continues its defense against a Russian invasion. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said that more than 3,700 Palestinians have been killed since the war began.

How does U.S. aid to Israel generally compare with aid to other countries? Here’s a closer look.

READ MORE: PolitiFact FL: Why do Americans have to pay for a State Department evacuation from Israel? It’s the law

Israel has consistently received more U.S. aid than any other country. Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has cumulatively provided Israel with almost $318 billion in aid of all types, including military, economic and humanitarian.

That’s about 70% more than the second- and third-place recipients: Vietnam (because of the Vietnam War) and Egypt (to bolster regional security after Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979).

Since 1946, the U.S. has cumulatively given more to Israel than any other country

Earlier in its history, Israel, which was established as a state in 1948, received significant economic and humanitarian aid along with military aid. However, as Israel has become wealthier, the U.S. has dramatically reduced its economic and humanitarian aid, while continuing its military aid.

The U.S. has given Israel $3 billion to $4 billion a year in military aid during the past decade and a half.

U.S. military aid to Israel has hovered from $3 billion to $4 billion since 2009

This spending was outlined in a 10-year, $38 billion memorandum of understanding the two countries signed in 2016. The memorandum cited several priorities, including updating the Israeli air fleet and maintaining the country’s missile defense system. Similar memorandums were signed under the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

If the new U.S. aid package sends $10 billion to Israel, that will be three times the average annual amount of U.S. military aid to Israel over the past decade and a half.

In context, the amount of military aid sent to Israel every year is less than one half of 1% of the total U.S. defense budget.

U.S. military aid to Israel is equivalent to a small fraction of the U.S. defense budget

Although military aid to Israel has been consistently high, aid to Ukraine has lapped it, following Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Combining military, economic, and humanitarian aid, the U.S. gave Ukraine nearly $78 billion in 2022; about $46.8 billion was military aid. That’s significantly larger than the U.S. aid to Israel.

After Russia's invasion, Ukraine became the biggest recipient of U.S. aid, by far

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., said the new aid would likely help Israel replace military equipment and munitions. It might also include funds that Israel can use to rebuild its military after the war, or to repair damaged buildings and infrastructure, Cancian said.

Whether the U.S. will send aid to boost Israel’s economy remains uncertain.

Editor's note: We updated this story Oct. 19, 2023, with information about Palestinian deaths.

Our Sources

Louis Jacobson has been with PolitiFact since 2009, currently as senior correspondent.
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