Sep 13 2016

Graham on US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the news the United States will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel tomorrow on defense assistance over the next decade.

“While I think the agreement is important and deserving of respect, I have also made it very clear that Congress is not a party to this agreement nor is this agreement binding on future Congresses. Congress has an independent duty to make a decision about the proper level of support for Israel or our other allies. To suggest this MOU will bind future Presidents and Congresses for the next decade is constitutionally flawed and impractical.

“As Chairman of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, I proposed an increase of $300 million for Foreign Military Financing Program funding for Israel above the MOU due to threats from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and radical Islamists in the Sinai Desert. This was unanimously supported by both sides of the aisle during Committee markup.

“Additionally, I find it odd the MOU only allocates $500 million for missile defense starting in 2018 while Congress has recommended $600 million for missile defense this year. Who really expects that in 2018 – given provocative Iranian behavior, improved Iranian missile technology, and the chaotic situation in the Middle East -- Israel’s defense needs will require less investment?

“We also have a MOU with our ally Jordan. In two of the last three fiscal years, Congress increased funding above the MoU levels by $340 million in fiscal year 2014 and $275 million in fiscal year 2016 – with no objection from President Obama. When the MOU agreement with Jordan was signed, no one anticipated the Syrian civil war, rise of ISIL, or the massive refugee crisis. One can easily see the same funding situation playing out with Israel in the years to come.

“Finally, I’m not pleased with a provision in the MOU which prohibits Israel from using American defense assistance on Israeli defense suppliers. Israel’s homegrown defense technology is some of the best in the world.

“Under our old agreement Israel was allowed to develop cutting-edge military technology and was required to share this technology with the United States. I’m proud to say that many of these advancements helped protect the lives of American service members in uniform.

“I do not believe this new provision will serve the interests of the United States or Israel. I do fear it will be Americans wearing the uniform of our nation who will pay the price for this short-sighted change in policy.”