Israel supporters furious as Republican senator Rand Paul blocks $38bn military aid package

Israel supporters furious as Republican senator Rand Paul blocks $38bn military aid package
Paul put on hold an Obama-era deal to provide the largest military assistance package that the United States has ever given to any country.
2 min read
28 November, 2018
Pro-Israel lobby groups have launched a campaign protesting Paul's move [Getty]
Pro-Israel groups have launched a campaign against Republican Senator Rand Paul after he blocked billions in dollars of military aid to the country.

The libertarian senator who opposes US foreign aid has put a hold on legislation which would have codified into law an Obama-era deal to provide a record $38 billion US military aid package to Israel over the next decade.

After passing through both chambers of Congress over the summer, Paul stopped it going to a final authorisation vote in the Senate, explaining that the sum should be raised "by cutting the aid to people who hate Israel and America". 

He added: "I'm not for foreign aid in general, if we are going to send aid to Israel it should be limited in time and scope so we aren't doing it forever."

"Why are we giving twice as much money to nations that surround Israel, which forces Israel to spend more on defence?" he said.

His statement also cited Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's years-old pledge for the Jewish state "to achieve economic independence".

In response to the move, pro-Israel groups the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Christians United for Israel have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising attacking Paul. The ads appear both in social media and target Paul's constituents in his home state of Kentucky, reported Haaretz

The landmark deal signed in September 2016 would have allowed Israel to buy advanced war planes and other forms of military hardware to boost its missile "defence shield".

The deal was set to cover the period from 2019 to 2028 and would have seen Israel receive $3.3 billion per year in foreign military financing - up from $3.1 billion currently - and $500,000 in funding for missile defence.

Israel is already the biggest single recipient of US military aid from the state department's foreign military financing budget. It also receives other forms of direct support from Pentagon funds for specific projects.

And while US taxpayers foot the bill for Israel's forces, Hollywood celebrities are also pledging millions of dollars to the military.

Earlier this month the a
nnual Friends of the Israel Defence Forces [FIDF] gala, attended by actors Ashton Kutcher and Gerard Butler, raised a record-breaking $60 million for the Israeli military.

The Israeli army has been condemned by the international community and human rights activists for using excessive force against Palestinians.

Earlier this year, the United Nations slammed the Israeli military over disproportionate and indiscriminate force in the Gaza Strip during weekly border protests. Their shoot-to-cripple and shoot-to-kill policies have especially come under fire.