Israel’s “a one-way street” relationship with the US

Here’s an excellent and highly-recommended article by Professor Avi Shlaim about the nature of the Israeli-US relationship, “a one-way street, with America doing all the diplomatic heavy lifting while Israel limits its role to obstruction and whining – repaying Uncle Sam’s generosity with ingratitude and scorn”.

Israeli leaders have always underlined the vital importance of self-reliance when it comes to Israel’s security. But the simple truth is that Israel wouldn’t be able to survive for very long without American support. Since 1949, America’s economic aid to Israel amounts to a staggering 118 billion dollars and America continues to subsidize the Jewish state to the tune of 3 billion dollars annually. America is also Israel’s main arms supplier and the official guarantor of its “quantitative military edge” over all its Arab neighbors.

In the diplomatic arena, Israel relies on America to shield it from the consequences of its habitual violations of international law. The International Court of Justice pronounced the so-called “security barrier” that Israel is building on the West Bank to be illegal. All of Israel’s civilian settlements on the West Bank violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, but Israel continues to expand them.

Since 1978, when the Camp David Accords were brokered by President Jimmy Carter, the United States has used its veto power on the Security Council 42 times on behalf of Israel. The most shocking abuse of this power was to veto, in February 2011, a resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion that had the support of the 14 other members of the Security Council.

What does the United States get in return? Nothing – in fact, worse than nothing. As Professor Shlaim notes:

There is no rational argument… that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank serves America’s national interest. On the contrary, as General David Petraeus told a Senate committee in 2010, the occupation foments anti-American sentiment throughout the Islamic world and hinders the development of America’s partnership with Arab governments. A resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is therefore a major, if not vital American interest.

And, then there are the insults, most recently highlighted by Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon’s outburst to the Israeli daily, Yediot Aharonot, when he said: “Secretary of State John Kerry — who arrived here determined, who operates from an incomprehensible obsession and a sense of messianism — can’t teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.”

As Professor Shlaim says:

The reason that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not disown his defence minister is that what Mr Yaalon said is what Mr Netanyahu thinks. The real problem is not Mr Yaalon’s bad manners but the policy that he and Mr Netanyahu are trying to foist on their senior ally: to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, to confront Iran, to protect Israel’s nuclear monopoly and to preserve its regional hegemony solely by military means. This programme is diametrically opposed to America’s true national security interests.

America gives Israel money, arms and advice. Israel takes the money, it takes the arms, and it rudely rejects the advice.

However, although that’s not new, what has changed is the general context in which this one-sided relationship exists. Not only are the American people increasingly aware of Israel’s manipulations, deceptions and lies, but Israel’s other allies in Europe have had enough and are beginning to pluck up the courage to do something about it.

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