Follow the money


*Total official US assistance to Israel from 1950 to 1985 amounted to $31.3 billion, more than that given to any other country.

*Until 1967, Israel acquired most of its military assistance from France and the Federal Republic of Germany.

*US aid to Israel jumped ninefold from $71.1 million in 1970 to $600.8 million in 1971, and has since then never fallen below $400 million a year. In 1979, the aid reached a high of $4.81 billion.

*Over the past 25 years, aid to Israel has changed from food and project-related assistance to support for debt reduction.

How it works, where it goes

*Israel's $3 billion aid package since the mid-1980s comprises $1.2 billion in civilian aid and $1.8 billion in military aid.

*In 1999, Israel took a 10 percent reduction in its civilian aid for the first time. When Congress passes a resolution for 2000, it is anticipated that another 10 percent will be taken off.

*Under an agreement worked out by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, half of each of the civilian cuts will be added to its military support. So of the $120 million cut from the 1999 civilian aid, $60 million was added to the defense aid, resulting in this year's figure of $1.86 billion. In 2000, the total figure will be $1.92 billion, and so on.

*The United States Agency for International Development, which is in charge of disbursing Israel's civilian aid, says that Israel must account for how it spends the funds semi-annually. But they and Israel's Finance Ministry declined to release these figures.

*USAID officials estimate that some 70 percent of this civilian aid is used to repay US debt.

Military expenditures

*Israel is allowed to spend the aid on "offshore procurement" - meaning that it can spend its money in Israel on military products such as weapons from Israeli companies that are involved in joint ventures with American companies. Any product that is 51 percent American-manufactured meets requirements to spend the aid on US defense purchases.

*The $1.86 billion is one portion of Israel's yearly military expenditures, which are somewhere between $8 billion and $9 billion.

*Between 80 and 85 percent of the military aid goes to the "main platform" of products - such as planes, battleships, and helicopters.

*In past years, Israel received all its military aid in one transfer at the beginning of the fiscal year, allowing Israel to deposit the money and earn interest on it. This year, pressed to come up with a compromise with Congress, President Clinton asked Prime Minister Ehud Barak to agree to take the funds in installments. The shift will cause Israel to lose about $60 million in interest.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Defense; Israeli Ministry of Finance; USAID; Political Dictionary of the State of Israel.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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