Trump cuts State Department funds but keeps ‘Aid to Israel’ intact


Trump’s budget, titled “America First,” cuts foreign funding for the World Bank and the UN, but the administration vows to ensure that Israel “has the ability to defend itself from threats and maintain its Qualitative Military Edge.”



WASHINGTON — ​A budget outline published by the Trump administration on Thursday respects an agreement made between former US President Barack Obama and the Israeli government to transfer $3.1 billion in foreign military financing to the Jewish state in 2018, despite massive cuts elsewhere across the State Department.

Last year, the US and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding meant to govern American defense assistance to the state for the next decade. That begins in fiscal year 2019, when an old agreement expires. Aid will at that point increase to $3.3 billion annually.

Consistent with Obama’s MoU, Trump’s first budget “provides $3.1 billion to meet the security assistance commitment to Israel, currently at an all-time high.” The new administration further vows to ensure that Israel “has the ability to defend itself from threats and maintain its Qualitative Military Edge.”

Concluding negotiations over the deal, Israel agreed not to lobby Congress for more aid than the deal prescribes for the coming fiscal year.

The doctrine of qualitative military edge, or QME, commits the US to ensuring Israel’s military capacity remains greater than that of its neighbors.

Few other programs enjoy the security of Israeli aid. Trump’s budget, which he titled “America First,” cuts or eliminates funding for programs such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Global Climate Change Initiative, the Educational and Cultural Exchange, the World Bank and the UN.


“The budget for the Department of State and USAID diplomatic and development activities is being refocused on priority strategic objectives and renewed attention is being placed on the appropriate US share of international spending,” the budget reads. Their goal, it continues, is to “reduce or end direct funding for international organizations whose missions do not substantially advance US foreign policy interests, are duplicative, or are not well-managed.”

In total, Trump’s proposal would cut the State Department budget by 28% and the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31%. At the same time, he requests an unprecedented $54 billion increase in defense spending– a figure balked at by senior Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Congress will ultimately appropriate funds for the next fiscal year.


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