The House of Representatives could vote Thursday on a Republican version of an Israeli aid package as the country's war with Hamas continues. And while the future of that proposal is unclear in a split Congress, one thing that is abundantly clear throughout history is that Washington has repeatedly stood with Israel.
U.S. support for our strongest ally in the Middle East dates all the way back to 1948, when the state of Israel was created. Since World War II, Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, to the tune of $158 billion in military aid.
In 2016, the Obama administration reached an agreement with the Israeli government to provide at least $38 billion in military aid over 10 years. The U.S. has also contributed over $3 billion to help Israel develop and maintain its Iron Dome missile defense system, which has been used to intercept incoming Hamas rockets.
Traditionally, if the U.S. is selling military aircraft to allies, Israel is also given the first opportunity. Congress allowed Israel to be the first international operator of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jet, and the country has purchased over 50 of these from the U.S. over the years.
As far as the tunnels that Hamas is using in Gaza to protect themselves from Israeli strikes, Congress has given over $300 million for Israel to better map them out. But as Democrats and Republicans negotiate yet another aid package to the region, disagreements loom large, including how much money should go to civilians in Gaza.
Over the years, substantially less money has gone to Gaza as compared to Israel because some federal laws prohibit tax dollars from flowing to certain Palestinian organizations. However, humanitarian aid to civilians is allowed.
While former President Donald Trump blocked over $200 million worth of aid to Palestinians in 2019, President Biden resumed some of that aid to Gaza two years later, allocating over $5 million for things like health care and infrastructure.
Since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out last month, President Biden has pledged to send an additional $100 million to help civilians in Gaza and the nearby West Bank. But the president wants billions of dollars more from Congress to continue his humanitarian efforts. It's something a number of Republicans are skeptical about considering how difficult it is to be sure that money doesn't end up in the hands of Hamas.
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