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The U.S. hands over $5.28 billion a year to these 5 countries
Why does the U.S. spend billions of dollars on military aid for foreign countries like Israel? It may be part of the U.S. defensive strategy. - photo by Sam Turner
Every year Americans pay anywhere between 10 and 39 percent of their paycheck in federal income tax. Where do those tax dollars end up? Most are used in the U.S. for government programs, but some are spread out across the globe.

Last year, federal spending on foreign economic aid totalled roughly $35 billion, CNN reports. The country that receives the greatest amount of this funding is Israel, which receives $3.1 billion per year.

1. Israel: $3.1 billion

2. Egypt: $1.3 billion

3. Iraq: $300 million

4. Jordan: $300 million

5. Pakistan: $280 million

That number could go up in the near future, however, as President Obama has just offered Israel the largest military aid package in U.S. history: $40 billion over the next 10 years.

According to The New York Times, Israel has been hesitant to accept the deal and insists on a more generous offer. Some U.S. observers believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding out for a larger sum from the next presidential administration.

At the end of the day, its a numbers question and a political bet about whether the Israelis can get something better from the next administration, which I think would not be a wise gamble, Ilan Goldenberg, the director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told the Times. I do think the longer this drags on, the less likely they are to get a deal.

Many Americans have opposed appropriating U.S. funds to Israel and other nations for military purposes. What they may not know is that these funds aren't seen by the U.S. as a gift, but as a strategic investment.

Last year, Vice interviewed Rob Pinfold, an expert in Israeli foreign affairs at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and asked him what would happen if the U.S. cut off Israel's military funding.

"The U.S. would have a lot less traction over Israel," Pinfold said. "It would be a downside for the U.S., and it would also be a downside for the (Middle East)."

Pinfold explained that U.S. contributions to Israeli military allow the U.S. to maintain a certain level of control over Israeli government actions.

At present, if Israel plans to build Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, the Americans say, "Na-uh, sorry, this is not happening," Pinfold told Vice.

Israel's behavior would become more unpredictable, said Pinfold, if the U.S. withheld its funding. Escalation in the Middle East could eventually lead to global conflict.