US gives $500m to Israel under national pandemic relief package

US gives $500m to Israel under national pandemic relief package
The US passes a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Israel, prompting national outrage.
2 min read
22 December, 2020
Congressional leaders released the text of the 5,593-page bill on Monday, [Getty]
The US Congress finally passed a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill after months of political wrangling to deliver long sought cash payments to businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but which also granted hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to Israel.

When congressional leaders released the text of the 5,593-page bill on Monday, observers were quick to note that the relief package included "$500 million for Israeli cooperation", a substantial portion of which is dedicated to the Israeli military.

The bill was passed by the US Congress yesterday as part of an overall $2.3 trillion package and included routine portions of the US government's foreign aid allocations.

However, the seemingly disparate allocation of funds, which  sees individual Americans receive a one off-payment of $600 - half the amount previously given in March 2020 - triggered outrage on social media platforms, prompting #IsraelAid to trend.

"$600 for you, $500,000,000 to Israel," Sven Henrich, a trader, said on Twitter.

"These figures are useful to see what our government's priorities are," journalist Walker Bragman said.

"$500,000,000 could restore the at-home caregiver program that got cut under Trump and the GOP. It could be used so schools have funds for distance learning. It could be used to get the 32,000,000 uninsured people healthcare for 2021. But nope. It’s going to Israel," Democratic activist, Amanda Siebe said.

"Israel has universal health care while Americans - transferring yet more of your money to that foreign country - do not: (they also have an excellent Lobby that wields more power than you do in the halls of Congress)," journalist Glenn Greenwald said.

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign aid.

The US previously agreed to give Israel $500 million to develop missile defence systems as part of the 2016 memorandum of understanding, which covered a 10-year period and $38 billion in military aid to Israel.

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