Steadfast support for Israel’s security has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for every U.S. Administration since the presidency of Harry S. Truman. Since its founding in 1948, the United States has provided Israel with over $125 billion in bilateral assistance focused on addressing new and complex security threats, bridging Israel’s capability gaps through security assistance and cooperation, increasing interoperability through joint exercises, and helping Israel maintain its Qualitative Military Edge (QME). This assistance has helped transform the Israel Defense Forces into one of the world’s most capable, effective militaries and turned the Israeli military industry and technology sector into one of the largest exporters of military capabilities worldwide. Since 1983, the United States and Israel have met annually via the Joint Political-Military Group (JPMG) to promote shared policies, address common threats and concerns, and identify new areas for security cooperation. The January 2021 JPMG reaffirmed the ironclad strategic partnership between the United States and Israel, underscoring a mutual commitment to advance collaboration in support of regional security and reinforce the historic achievements of recent normalization efforts in the Middle East.
Israel is the leading global recipient of Title 22 U.S. security assistance under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. This has been formalized by a 10-year (2019-2028) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Consistent with the MOU, the United States annually provides $3.3 billion in FMF and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defense. Since FY 2009, the United States has provided Israel with $3.4 billion in funding for missile defense, including $1.3 billion for Iron Dome support starting in FY 2011. Through FMF, the United States provides Israel with access to some of the most advanced military equipment in the world, including the F-35 Lightning. Israel is eligible for Cash Flow Financing and is authorized to use its annual FMF allocation to procure defense articles, services, and training through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, Direct Commercial Contract agreements – which are FMF-funded Direct Commercial Sales procurements – and through Off Shore Procurement (OSP). Via OSP the current MOU allows Israel to spend a portion of its FMF on Israeli- rather U.S.-origin defense articles. This was 25 percent in FY 2019 but is set to phase-out and decrease to zero in FY 2028.
As of July 2021, the United States has 629 active Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases, valued at $23.2 billion, with Israel. FMS cases notified to Congress are listed here; priority initiatives include: CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters; KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tankers; and precision-guided munitions.
From CY 2015 through CY 2019, the U.S. has also authorized the permanent export of over $4.9 billion in defense articles to Israel via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. The top categories of DCS to Israel were gas turbine engines, aircraft, and ground vehicles.
Since 2010, the United States has provided Israel with $720 million worth of equipment under the Excess Defense Articles program, including weapons, spare parts, weapons, and simulators. U.S. European Command also maintains in Israel the U.S. War Reserve Stockpile, which can be used to boost Israeli defenses in the case of a significant military emergency.
In addition to security assistance and arms sales, the United States participates in a variety of exchanges with Israel, including military exercises like Juniper Falcon, joint research, and weapons development.
The United States and Israel have signed multiple bilateral defense cooperation agreements, to include: a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (1952); a General Security of Information Agreement (1982); a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (1991); and a Status of Forces Agreement (1994).
Since 2011, the United States has also invested more than $6 million in Conventional Weapons Destruction programs in the West Bank to improve regional and human security through the survey and clearance of undisputed minefields. Following years of negotiations with the Palestinians and Israelis, humanitarian mine action activities began in April 2014 – this represents the first humanitarian clearance of landmine contamination in nearly five decades.
Israel has been designated as a U.S. Major Non-NATO Ally under U.S. law. This status provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation and is a powerful symbol of their close relationship with the United States. Consistent with statutory requirements, it is the policy of the United States to help Israel preserve its QME, or its ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties. This requires a quadrennial report to Congress, for arms transfers that are required to be Congressionally notified, and a determination that individual arms transfers to the region will not adversely affect Israel’s QME.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.