President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference [Photo Credit: Leslie N. Emory]

The request for the 2019 fiscal budget of the United States was recently signed by US President Donald Trump and included a request for a $200 million increase in additional aid to Israel. Under Donald Trump, in the fiscal year 2018, a $3.1 billion foreign ally aid package was approved. The reason cited for the presidents request for a total of $3.3 billion in funding for Israel in 2019 is “to bolster Israel’s capacity to defend itself and maintain its qualitative military edge”. The budget proposal also mentioned the Memorandum of Understanding which would effectively see a 10-year $38 billion foreign aid package for Israel. “The Budget fully supports the new, 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel.”

The President’s decision to request additional funding for a foreign ally comes amid recent controversies surrounding the President’s budget plan. The budget has support from many in the United States but has seen a backlash among more left-leaning individuals on the political spectrum. In particular, among the budget critics are individuals that oppose the proposed cuts to U.S. foreign affairs spending. The US president has been speaking about trimming foreign spending from programs and organizations that deliver few tangible results, at very high costs to American taxpayers – such as the United Nations and its subsidiary programs, like UNESCO.

Last year, United States Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley announced a $285 million cut to the United Nations (U.N.) budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Also last year, the United States announced its withdrawal from the bold-faced anti-Israel United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO, citing the organization’s anti-Israel as one of the reasons for its departure – which will result in another budget cut to foreign aid.

With regard to the United Nations cut, the President’s budget request stated President’s desire to hold the United Nations and donors of the organization more responsible for the discretionary budget. “The Budget relies on a new approach to relief that includes new efforts to influence other donors to give a greater share. The Budget also demands improved performance by United  Nations (UN) organizations and other implementers to maximize the benefit for recipients of assistance. This approach supports the priority to impose greater accountability on international partners along with donor burden sharing that is more balanced, while reducing suffering and meeting the needs of refugees and displaced persons close to their homes until they can safely return.

The Lev Haolam team thanks US President Donald Trump and the people of the United States for staying strong in his commitment to the people of Israel.