Israel-US relations is complex. Israel, in 1972 attacked an American military ship. Almost sank it. Last year, several cases of spying was uncovered against suspected Israeli agents. One would imagine how come they are still allies?
Obama’s administration put it’s reputation at stake when it said in public that they demand a full settlement freeze. In response, Netenyahu (the Israeli prime minister) recently authorized newer settlements in East Jerusalem.
One would imagine that the relation between Washington and Israel would waver, and US will reduce it’s lever of support for Israel. There should be some blowback.
There hasn’t been anything like it. Instead, the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton retreated from her earlier position. Hence the puzzle.
Why is Netenyahu is doing such things? Yes he is a fanatic, but he’s no stupid. He knows if the support of the US is lost, then Israel will not be able to continue what it’s doing, including the occupation of Palestine. The reason they think they “need” to continue occupying Palestine, I believe, are mainly twofold-
- One- it gives them a strategic military depth vis-a-vis it’s neighbors, namely Syria and Jordan. Israel is a tiny country surrounded. If it ever comes to war, the first place to take hits will not be Israeli cities where it’s economy, it factories and it’s socio-political fabric is located. Instead, the first place hit will be Palestine and the Israeli settlements- losing which does not significantly alter the strength of the Israeli government.
- Two- the occupied Palestinians actually contribute to Israeli prosperity. The starving Palestinians make cheap labours. It’s one of the reasons why Israeli leadership is doing everything they can to break the Palestinian businesses that are independent of Israel. Farming is one example. It’s being broken by snatching lands and denying water. Did you know that it is illegal to build water tanks in their farms by Palestinians?
However, in spite of all this, maintaining US support is a higher priority (than occupying Palestine) for the Israeli government. Without it, they will have to deal with the neighbors as equals, and accept an Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.
Here is one possible reason why Israel is not cooperating with the present US government-
Netenyahu’s real allies in Washington are the neo-cons. Netenyahu knows that his racist government is fundamentally at odds with Obama’s (at least overtly) non-racist government.
The neo-cons on the other hand are trying to discredit Obama as a leader. Their ally and tool in this is the veritable Netenyahu and his racist government.
In showing the US government a big banana, Netenyahu is essentially saying- Obama is an ineffective leader, taking his halo away, making it easier for his allies in Washington to take over. They can hope to come back to office and finish the unfinished “jobs.”
Why is Obama tolerating this? Because the are strong lobbyists on whom his party depends for funds. Probably the pro-democrat lobbyists also are unhappy with Netenyahu’s policies, but they will not accept US government taking actions against the Israeli government. Obama can berate Netenyahu, but not take action against Israeli government.
It’s a deadlock, if that’s the case.
Obama and his team are smart people, and I hope they find a way.
One of the ways to get out of this crisis would be to develop strong ties with countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and not aiding the repressive regime in Egypt.
How does that help?
It’ll send a message to Israel (without hurting it- thus no lobbyists could object) that US does not depend on Israel solely in the middle east.
That’ll soften Netenyahu.
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