Historic in the worst way

Historic in the worst way–47.29h.,b12-3

The current aid agreement is for $3.1b a year. The new one is for $3.8b but increase is almost entirely illusory. Congress already appropriates hundreds of millions of dollars beyond the base $3.1 billion level for Israel’s missile defense, so the current aid level is actually about $3.5 billion. That means  the total increase is roughly $300 m a year.

First, Israel must spend every dime in the United, State after a phase-in period, meaning it cannot use the funds to purchase any military equipment made in Israel. Second, Israel has agreed that it will not go to Congress to seek additional funding under any circumstances.

I’m offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process. If they don’t like what I’m doing, they can veto the bill. We can’t have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to.

As the price for concluding the deal, Obama forced Israel to agree that if congress appropriates additional funds in 2017 or 2018, Israel will not  accept aid and will return the money. This is a first in American history  constitutes a deliberate undermining of the constitutional power of Congress to determine foreign aid levels.

But what is this “agreement? it  isn’t a treaty, and Congress  had no role in it whatsoever. As Ryan’s aide said, nothing stops Congress from appropriating what it thinks proper in future years—with Obama’s conditions or without them.

Israel and the United States reached an agreement on the hot topic of settlement expansion. Sharon agreed he would create no new settlements and provide Israelis with no financial inducements to move to a settlement. New construction in settlements would be within already-built-up areas and settlements would expand in population but not in land area.

The Obama administration simply ignored the letters. They were treated as at best a private, personal  exchange between two men. Bush was after all gone, and so was Sharon, and of conditions were not binding in the sense that a treaty is. That’s precisely the way future administrations should treat this Obama Netanyahu deal: binding on the two men, perhaps, but not on the two countries.

Consider the alternative: A senator or congressman visits Israel in 2017 or 2020 and says to its minister of defense or IDF chief of staff, “Do you have the funding you need for program X, given the changes in Syria and the way Hezbollah is building up and how Iran is acting?” And the Israelis are supposed to reply, “I can’t talk to you about that; I’m not allowed to speak to Congress about  anything related to funds.” It’s absurd and constitutes an unacceptable interference with the ability of Congress to do its critical appropriations work.

source-weekly std, elliott abrams,


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