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New ‘concepts’ in American-Israeli Relations

Image Credit: Dana A. Shams/©Gulf News

By As’ad Abdul Rahman | Gulf News | 23 Jun 2012

From the point of view of its strategic security, as well as in economic, political and diplomatic terms, Israel is dependent on the US. Since 1948, the US has consecrated a huge chunk of its aid to the Zionist state, making it the largest recipient of US aid in the world and a “strategic partner”. In spite of this, the possibilities of tension in this relationship cannot be avoided.

With American voices questioning the “costs” of this strategic alliance and the linkage of Israeli security with that of the US, this very special relationship may have recently experienced some vicissitude. American officials are asking if that multi-sided support must be absolute and whether it is a must for the US to defend any Israeli government, irrespective of its policies? Should the US “save Israel of itself,” especially when it is in conflict with the US’s interests?

Israel does not seem worried about the US falling into the quagmire of new wars. It has been accused of goading former president George W. Bush’s administration into the war against Iraq and now strongly endeavours to encourage President Barack Obama’s administration into similar action against Iran. This, at a time, when Israel, under Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, is encouraging colony building and racial cleansing in Palestine, thereby increasing the level of hatred against the US throughout the world — especially in Arab and Muslim worlds which will automatically beget the Islamic extremism that the US has been fighting since the attacks on September 11, 2001.

A change in the US behaviour towards Israel is essentially attributed to President Obama’s views of Israeli interests, which differ from those of his predecessor, president Bush. The former takes the side of the Israeli middle-wing that distances itself from the extremist right-wing. This coincides with the growing feeling among pro-Israel Americans (and even with certain Israelis too) that Netanyahu and his government are losing Washington’s confidence with regard to the future of Israel’s security. Given this scenario, we find that this group’s worries are due to the fact that Israel is unable to depend on the fact that it is an indispensable ally. Moreover, it is also unable to ignore the fact that present-day Israeli policies are threatening American interests.

Here we should keep in mind what two prominent American officials had said. First was former secretary of defence, Robert Gates, when he declared that “inability to achieve any progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is harmful to US national security in the region. This lack of progress in the peace-process is being used by our enemies in the region against our national security.”

This declaration came a few days after general David Petraeus, the US commander, had declared that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of US favouritism for Israel.” He continued “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and people in the AOR [Area of Responsibility] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.” This is to say nothing about other prominent representatives of the “military lobby” in the US, whether previous national security advisers or other generals, like general James Johns and chairman of the joint chiefs-of-staff, admiral Michael Mullen.

It has become clear that the “common values” on which Israel has depended for winning American sympathy have become less important with the growing Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. Aharon David, the Middle East consultant to former president Bill Clinton, spoke of “Obama’s impatience with Netanyahu to the level of over-boiling”. Israel is suffering from international contempt of its atrocities. In fact, Obama, whose demands Netanyahu continually rejects/ belittles, has responded with a chilly reception of Netanyahu at the White House in Washington. In a lengthy meeting, he also made it clear to the Israeli Prime Minister that “American support to Israel should not be taken for granted.”

Since coming to power, President Obama has reiterated that no peace is possible in the Middle East without the establishment of a Palestinian state, while emphasising the importance of the two-state solution. This trend, according to numerous analysts, confirms the US understanding that “reforming the world order” stems from its ability to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, or even the Iran nuclear question. Washington is apprehensive about it, especially with the Netanyahu government continuing with its destructive plan with the first issue and maintaining its adventurous intention regarding the second, in which case Iran will surely strike at US military bases and drag the US into another unwanted war. Should that happen, it will further worsen the US predicament in Middle East’s political quick-sand and deepen feelings of enmity towards the US in the Arab and Islamic world.

In fact, President Obama is still trying to deal with Israel without accepting the line of its extreme right-wing government,

As long as the US is Israel’s benefactor, it has the right to strongly demand Israel to “behave well” and to give American interests their due respect — at least in as much as the US respects Israeli interests.

Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the Chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopaedia.

 

 

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