Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, there have been increasingly frequent debates about whether the United States, which is the biggest supporter of Kiev, can persist with its aid even in the event of another conflict. This is now taking place in the Middle East, and President Joe Biden personally went to assure the Israelis of American support and solidarity.
As reported in March of this year by the US Congress, Israel has been the largest cumulative recipient of military aid to its allies since World War II. Over the past decades, the United States has provided Israel with bilateral aid and military financing worth 158 billion dollars, i.e. more than 3.6 trillion crowns.
As for 2023, the US has earmarked $3.8 billion for Israeli military funding. It is part of a 10-year agreement signed during the administration of former US President Barack Obama, which pledged to allocate a total of $38 billion in military aid to the Middle Eastern country between 2019 and 2028.
As for Ukraine, according to data from the German research institute Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the country has already received more than 76 billion dollars (more than 1.7 trillion crowns) of support from the US since the beginning of the war. This amount includes both humanitarian and financial and military aid, with military aid accounting for roughly 60% of the total.
The spending isn’t exactly low, and it’s far from over, as Biden’s extraordinary speech from the Oval Office on Thursday showed.
Defend the US and the world
“History has taught us that when terrorists don’t pay for their terror, when dictators don’t pay for their aggression, they cause more chaos, death and destruction. They continue on. And the cost and the threat to America and the entire world continues to increase,” the US president said, adding that he intends to ask Congress for unprecedented aid to Israel and additional aid to Ukraine.
The AP agency has already reported that Biden is expected to apply for a total of $105 billion (more than 2.4 trillion crowns) on Friday. An equal $60 billion should go to Ukraine, with much of that aid to replenish the stockpile of weapons that the US has previously provided the country with.
Israel should receive $14 billion from the package, of which $10 billion should go to unspecified humanitarian activities, another $14 billion to manage the US-Mexico border and the fight against fentanyl, and $7 billion should be earmarked for the Indo-Pacific a region that includes Taiwan.
Biden v Israel
Joe Biden has arrived on an extraordinary visit to Israel, to which he expresses firm support in the effort to eliminate the Hamas movement. However, the latest news of hundreds of dead after an explosion at a hospital in Gaza only makes his journey more difficult.
It is Taiwan that is the third country that is speculated as a possible scene of a new conflict and that the United States promises to come to the aid of. Already, as part of the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act approved last year, the US is to spend up to $2 billion a year (over 46 billion crowns) on military grant aid to the island between 2023 and 2027.
House still deadlocked
However, asking the US Congress for additional high spending on aid to other countries at this time is very tricky. According to Biden, although the United States has the capacity to help Ukraine and Israel, and not at the expense of its own defense, the House of Representatives, which is needed to approve these expenditures, is currently effectively blocked.
In early October, the lower house of Congress removed Republican Kevin McCarthy from its leadership in an unprecedented vote. For the past two weeks, Republicans have been unable to find a replacement for him, and the interim Speaker of the House cannot present bills for a vote or non-binding resolutions.
In addition, conservative Republicans are against sending more weapons to Ukraine, which was paid for by Biden’s earlier request for funding for the Ukrainians. That included $24 billion in aid for the next few months of fighting and was cut from budget plans last month despite a personal plea from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
How a key element of Israel’s defense works
Israel’s skies are protected by the Iron Dome air defense system during current terrorist attacks. The Jewish state’s military claims the device has a 90% success rate. According to security analyst Lukáš Visingro, the system has no parallels in the world.
In addition, additional financial aid to Israel might not be well received in the House of Representatives. There is a wing within the Democratic Party, to which MPs Ilhan Omarová and Rashida Tlaibová belong, which has been drawing attention to the unfair treatment of Palestinians and questioning American policy towards the Jewish state for a long time.
The Senate, in which, unlike the House, Democrats predominate, it is said that they intend to accept Biden’s proposal quickly. However, there are also disagreements about the next course of action. Eight Republicans, led by Kansas Senator Roger Marshall, have already stated, for example, that they do not want to combine aid to Ukraine and Israel in a single legislative proposal.
“These are two separate and unrelated conflicts, and it would be wrong to use aid support to Israel in an effort to push for more aid to Ukraine,” the politicians argue in an official letter.
In addition, the Biden administration is not spared from dissenting voices. This week, in protest against the US decision to continue sending weapons to Israel, one of the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resigned. Josh Paul, who headed the office that oversees arms transfers, later told the BBC to justify his departure by saying that he believes that Israel’s actions violate human rights and that selling arms to that country is against US law.
It is also interesting to look into the ranks of the public. In a recent CNN poll, nearly all respondents sympathized with the Israeli people after the Hamas attacks, but there was no clear consensus on the appropriate level of US involvement. Although a third of respondents (35%) said that the US provides the right amount of aid, another 36% were not sure whether the amount of American aid was adequate.
Since last February, support for maintaining aid to Ukraine has dropped significantly. According to an August survey by the same website, 55% of respondents said that Congress should no longer approve additional funds to help the country attacked by Russia.