Saturday, April 03, 2010

Understanding the current US-Israeli dispute

The current fallout between the USA and Israel has led to many analysts to revisit their opinion on US-Israeli relations. The close relationship between the US and Israel has been one of the most salient features in US foreign policy for nearly three and a half decades. The $3 billion in military and economic aid sent annually to Israel by Washington is rarely questioned in Congress, even by liberals who normally challenge US aid to governments that engage in widespread violations of human rights, or by conservatives who usually oppose foreign aid in general. Virtually all Western countries share the United States' strong support for Israel's right to exist in peace and security. The US often stands alone with Israel at the United Nations and other international forums when objections are raised over ongoing Israeli violations of international law and related concerns.

This is why this spate has shocked many and bewildered others. The spat broke out when the Netanyahu administration, during Vice President Biden's visit to Israel to press ahead with the peace process, announced that it would be building 1,600 homes for Jews in East Jerusalem in Palestinian territory. Washington criticized the move as an insult and demanded that Israel reverse its decision. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the Israelis to work toward repairing relations with the United States by showing through actions that it is "committed to this relationship and to the peace process." The Israelis covered their apologies by insisting that the announcement of the new building program was a technical foul-up that was not meant to happen.

To understand if this event is significant, in that will it change the direction of US-Israeli relations; the following points need to be understood.

- Israeli since the 1967 six day war has been constructing settlements across Palestine and even when it has been rebuked it has continued to do so. Israel acknowledges US instructions but essentially winks at the US with regards to implementing them.

- The US has only occasionally been able to move forward on the two state solution, it has continually been forced to deal with more pressing issues which has meant Israel has attempted to unilaterally define the demographic and geographic facts on the ground, through building settlements and encroaching further and further into Palestine. America is committed to protecting Israel, guaranteeing her security and securing a prosperous standard of living for the Jews living there. Hilary Clinton confirmed this in her speech to AIPAC as she described the Obama administration as the "unshakeable friend of Israel."

- America refuses to allow Israel to share influence with her in the region. In order to prevent Israeli expansion and the spread of Israeli influence in the region, American policy has been based on isolating Israel from the rest of the region in an attempt to curtail her and minimise her role in the quest to solve the Palestinian issue and the Middle Eastern issue. US policy is centred around establishing a Palestinian state to act as an instrument of containment; by establishing a host of international guarantees and by bringing multinational forces to be deployed along the borders between Israel and the neighbouring Arab countries - Jordan, Syria, Egypt and the future Palestinian State. The American policy has also been based on working towards the internationalisation of Jerusalem, as America sees this internationalisation as a solution to the sensitive crisis of Jerusalem that would please the Christians and guarantee a strong American presence through the presence of the United Nations.

- Israel knows this and has taken advantage of US preoccupation elseware and is attempting to unilaterally define the final settlement, through building numerous settlements. The Likud party which has been the party of power for most of Israel's recent history attempted to unilaterally define the borders by building settlements and expelling Muslims, however Israel still needs the US for any final settlement and for these reasons it has organised lobbying in the US and the worlds media in order to achieve a favourable outcome. The endeavour to achieve Eratz Israel is complicated by the fact that the Labour party in Israel believes in giving up land for permanent defined borders, it believes this is a price worth paying for the security it needs.

- Israel protects America's interests in the region through having a military balance of power in its favour which continues to occupy the efforts and emotions of the Ummah. Israel was created by the British in order to ensure the Ummah remains divided and continually occupied in an endless struggle with a Western proxy. This is why Israel will always be showered with military technology and aid. The day the Khilafah is established Israel ceases to be useful. Israel is an important strategic asset for the US, due to this Israel since its inception has used this to punch above its weight and attempt to build an image - albeit a weak one, that the US needs Israel.

- Both Obama and Netanyahu are in relatively weak positions at home, after being well into their terms. Obama's ‘hope for change' has more or less evaporated as the glaring reality of the Global financial crisis has stalled the US economy. Obama has seen to be weak in the face of threatening Iran with crippling sanctions and summits arranged to impose crippling sanctions have failed to materialise. Obama's attention has been on the draw down in Iraq, which is still plagued by many uncertainties and any failure here will severely hinder his prospects in the 2012 presidential elections. Hence the peace process is in reality the only project Obama can use to prove his credentials in an environment where he is facing many hurdles for any meaningful progress.

- Netanyahu on the other hand is part of a coalition government which is full of hardliners, which makes him look as a moderate. Israelis continue to be concerned about Obama's reaching out to Iran and the Muslim world. Netanyahu's hard-line on settlement construction is for domestic consumption due to his weak position, he needs to show he has taken a strong position on Israeli national interests.

- Israel has been very efficient in influencing US policy. The US is organising the Middle East on many issues the US and Israel have the same policies. Israel like a spoilt child will continue to disobey the master from time to time and the US will caution Israel against undermining American interests in the region. Israel neither has the propensity to do more and the US would not want to undermine its strategic asset in the region. When the US decides to move ahead with its aims in the region it will impose this upon Israel, until then it is expected Israel will, for domestic reasons continue with such arrogant measures.

This current spat in no way changes the underlying trend between the US and Israel, Israel protects US interest in the region, in return the US provides the Israelis with a standard of living and prosperity, for which Israel will forever be dependent upon. In this way the US has linked Israel's destiny with US interests. The Palestinian Authority, President Mahmoud Abbas and his so-called administration, who like to portray an image of autonomy and independence, are mere spectators in this, unable to influence let alone determine the interest of the Muslims of Palestine. US support for the Israeli government, like US support for its allies elsewhere in the world, is not motivated by objective security needs or a strong moral commitment to the country. Rather, as elsewhere, US foreign policy is motivated primarily to advance its own perceived strategic interests.

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