The U.S.-Israel Security Aid Package — A Honey Trap Or A Brotherly Gift?

September 15th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

It took time, some argue far too much time, but the Security Aid Package Agreement between the U.S. and Israel was finally signed, amid the usual chorus of congratulations, praise and well, so much politicking, especially from the Israeli side. And when we talk Israel, we talk Netanyahu. Is he the hero or, as we are told by many, including influential figures, mostly have beens, who consider him the villain? Some context is needed here.

The package will be for the duration of 10 years, starting in 2019 [there is another package in place until then]. It involves the overall lump sum of 38 billion dollars, and the vast majority of this huge sum will be used in order for Israel to buy back American hardware. Only 5.6 billion dollars will be purchased in Shekels in Israel. It is the largest such agreement ever to be signed by any American administration with any foreign country. No doubt, an unprecedented agreement, one which cements the notion of a special relationship between the two countries, something which may define the word allies, without formally using it. So far, so great, or not?

Here is where the Netanyahu factor comes into being, and the debate about his true or imagined role is actually going beyond the ad hominem to the more general question of U.S.-Israeli relations. The main criticism leveled at Netanyahu is that he is responsible to the fact that the agreement is not optimal from an Israeli perspective, because of his Holy War against the Iran nuclear deal, the famous speech in Congress and the activation of the Israeli lobby for a fight against the president over there. A serious charge, especially when it is accompanied by another charge, which is that the Obama administration was saying to Netanyahu, that no opposition to the Iran deal, would mean that the sky's the limit for Israel, or in the words of a prominent former Netanyahu advisor, "name your price." I, of course, have no way to know, but I do know, that in 1991, when the GHW Bush administration wanted Israel desperately to NOT respond to the Iraqi missile attacks during Desert Storm, the late Lawrence Eagleburger was sent to then PM Shamir, and the message was, "name your price," and Israel received 11 out of 12 outstanding requests from the U.S., which were denied until then. So, "name your price" has its precedent, though claiming now, that 2-3 years back, when the Obama-Netanyahu relations were already sour, it could be Israel's for the asking. Maybe Monday Night Quarterbacking. That said, it is still the view of this blogger, that Netanyahu and Israel could have achieved more, both in terms of the nuclear deal itself and in the security package deal that was on the table already then.

Where it all matters nowadays, is not really about the politician/leader Netanyahu, and he will have to do, what he does better than others, which is to explain himself to the Israeli voters, the people that in the last 7 years seemed to have bought his explanations on many issues. The problem for him and Israel may surface some time after November 8, and this is the likelihood of a strong-worded, more binding than before UN Security Council resolution about a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and this time WITHOUT an American veto. It will be relatively easy to the outgoing Obama administration to justify their voting by arguing exactly what Susan Rice and the president himself are saying; "here is our proof of friendship and care for Israel-this unprecedented Security Aid Package-the most dramatic indication of our care for Israel's long-term security." A Palestinian state? Well, Netanyahu himself supports a two-state solution and we, the U.S. just follow this and our vote is in line with our stated and on-going strategy. Can Netanyahu then resist, yell, scream, go on American TV, deliver another historic speech to the world and the American people in particular? He can, and he may very well do, but it will still lack something. It is called credibility, as it will be ever more difficult to convince even many in the pro-Israel community that the Obama administration commits the ultimate Chamberlain-like policy.

A honey trap or a brotherly gift? Maybe, more to the point it will be to define it as the limits of the alliance-what happens when one ally is BIG brother, and the other is the junior one.

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Source: Elder Care Huffington Post

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