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Pentagon: Aid only for `essential items`

By Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post

The IDF can no longer use American foreign military aid to purchase `non-essential military items,` The Jerusalem Post has learned.

According to defense officials, the Pentagon informed the Defense Ministry last month that the new instruction pertained to all countries receiving US foreign military financing (FMF), and not just Israel.

The instruction was sent out to all Defense Ministry branches in a letter by the head of the Procurement Department, Menahem Marmorush.

Officials said that according to the FMF regulations, the $3 billion that Israel receives was supposed to be used strictly for weaponry and defense-related projects. Over the years, however, the Pentagon made exceptions and allowed the IDF to purchase non-essential items such as covers for trucks, uniforms and even food for soldiers.

Last week, the Post revealed that in recent Defense Ministry assessments, Defense Minister Ehud Barak raised concerns that the new administration in Washington might try to cut the FMF to Israel as part of an effort to pressure the government into dismantling illegal outposts.

The vast majority of Israel`s FMF has to be spent in the US, and a small percentage can be converted into shekels and used to purchase equipment not defined as weaponry.

Officials said that under the new regulations, the Defense Ministry would have to provide the Pentagon with quarterly reports on its spending.


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