Dangerous Conditions: The Case Against Threatening Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge

In 2016 President Obama signed a ten-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) that pledged an unprecedented level of U.S. military assistance to the Jewish state. Such concrete support for Israel’s self-defense has been a key element of U.S. policy for decades, and it forms the centerpiece of a bipartisan commitment, codified in U.S. law, to uphold Israel’s “qualitative military edge” (QME).

This defense assistance to Israel, and maintaining Israel’s QME, directly promote U.S. interests in the Middle East. Increasingly, as the United States retrenches from the region, defense assistance helps Israel take the lead in rolling back Tehran’s regionwide military expansion. Military assistance – for example Iron Dome missile defense systems – also helps defend Palestinians and Israelis alike. And it sustains an established pattern of U.S. security assurances to enable Israel to take serious risks for peace. In this light, the MoU is not merely an aid package but also a vehicle for peace.

Yet, amid both last year’s Democratic presidential primary and the expected but then postponed Israeli extension of sovereignty (what some call “annexation”) to parts of the West Bank this summer, there has been a growing chorus of calls in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to condition this assistance on Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. Should progressives come to dominate the party, it is hard to imagine they will not pursue the issue of conditioning aid to Israel.

To clarify the benefits to the United States of defense assistance to Israel, and to counter the growing arguments against it, JINSA’s new report lays out recommendations for Congressional and White House leaders to underscore how continued defense assistance to Israel serves U.S. national security interests without prejudicing the prospects for peace.

Click here to read the report.

JINSA Staff Contributors

Michael Makovsky, PhD
President & CEO

Blaise Misztal
Vice President for Policy

Charles B. Perkins
Director for U.S.-Israel Security Policy

Jonathan Ruhe
Director of Foreign Policy