How the U.S Deceives Israel
Since Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States, many have already started to discuss and analyse how Biden’s policies will play out in the Middle East, especially concerning the issues of Israel and the peace process, and the revival of the Iranian nuclear accords. Netanyahu showed much scepticism prior to Biden winning the election on how his policies would affect Israel and the region. Reason being, Benjamin Netanyahu enjoyed an unprecedented level of support under the Trump administration, and would not like the Democrats to reverse the current course. It is no secret that the Republicans maintain a close relationship with the Jewish lobby as compared to the Democrats.
In truth, neither side truly supports Israel’s cause or even the Arabs for that matter; instead, the support from both sides of the government tends to fluctuate according to America’s national interests. The only difference is that the Republicans are lesser of two evils. Therefore, America deceives both sides- the Arabs and Jews for its selfish interests. The Obama-Biden period clearly illustrated how America played with both sides in the region for its self-serving interests, and how the Biden-Harris administration will most probably follow a similar course.
How Obama Utilized the Regional States to Pressure Israel
On October 6th 2011, the executive council of UNESCO approved Palestine’s entry into the agency. UNESCO’s General Conference, the agency’s highest ruling body, decided by a vote of 107 in favour to 14 against, with 52 abstentions. The United States was one of the main countries to criticize UNESCO’s decision where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that UNESCO should “think again” on plans to vote on Palestinian membership. Noting that such a move could cause the United States to cut funds for the organization. The U.S also punished the destitute people of Palestine by withholding financial aid, which was to the amounts of $200 million.
Mahmood Abbas noted that the US president, Barack Obama, said a year ago he hoped to see an independent Palestine join the UN at this time. Abbas mentioned that “Obama himself said he wanted to see a Palestinian state by September,”. He also stated that he would not bow to foreign pressure and what he called attempts to “buy off” the Palestinians. In return, the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said the Palestinians had ‘’miscalculated’’ if they believed the move would bring them closer to independence.
Besides America’s firm stance against the Palestinians, the Obama administration in secret wanted a Palestinian state alongside Israel, which he defended in the 2010 general assembly. President Obama stated, “Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine,”. However, the truth of the matter is that the U.S did not want what was best for Israelis or the Palestinians instead, it was all about American interests where these weak states would have to operate under an American framework. Otherwise, suffer the consequences.
The Obama administration’s peace process significantly clashed against Israel’s interests. Netanyahu insisted that Israel would never roll back its 1967 borders since it would result in huge concessions of occupied land. Obama insisted the basis for the negotiations should be centred upon to creating a Palestinian state. Netanyahu retorted, “Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality,”.
The problem that Obama faced was that he couldn’t openly support a separate Palestinian state as the elections were nearby where the Republicans were exploiting the Democrats’ ambiguity and the lack of support for Israel. Aaron David Miller, Middle East Analyst, part of the Wilson Centre in March 2012 mentioned that Obama doesn’t want to get into an unproductive fight with Israel.
This was due to Obama wanting to secure vital Jewish votes from states like Ohio and Florida, which were pivotal for him to win the election. However, Obama also did not want Israel to violate the terms of the peace process, and neither he could openly oppose Israel since it would affect his re-election prospects. Hence, the U.S was witnessed contradicting itself towards its promises for the Palestinian cause.
Therefore, the U.S simultaneously used Egypt, Syria and other client states to remind Israel how porous its borders are with Egypt and Syria while in rhetoric, it staunchly opposed Palestine’s pursuit of entry into the UNESCO council.
During the same year, attacks by militants in Sinai, the frequent disruption of gas pipelines, the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and the raid on the Israeli embassy in Cairo all compelled the Israeli ambassador and diplomatic staff to flee back to Israel. All these events were indirectly caused by the U.S to pressurise Israel to get back in line and accept the peace process without publicly invoking as it could cost Obama the 2012 elections. These events could’ve been prevented if Egypt and Syria tried to control the situation through their military; instead, they let their foot off the pedal.
To further highlight the former issue, consider the following. When Mubarak was toppled during the Arab uprising in 2011, Israel was stunned that it lost a devoted friend and a close US ally that maintained a friendly atmosphere for Israel in a hostile region. Israel’s President Shimon Peres stated, “We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak,” he further stated, “I don’t say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East.” The newspapers of Israel were blunter regarding the situation in Egypt wherein the Daily Maariv an article was titled “A Bullet in the Back from Uncle Sam.” It accused Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of pursuing a naïve, smug, and insular diplomacy which was heedless of the risks. In early February 2011, a columnist in Haaretz Newspaper, Ari Shavit said Obama had betrayed “a moderate Egyptian president who remained loyal to the United States, promoted stability and encouraged moderation.”
It is clear from the comments of the Israeli newspapers and government officials that Egypt for decades aided Israel and regularly maintained its regional border security. As for Mubarak, he was an American puppet who maintained Israel’s security for the U.S, but since the superpower no longer needed him, it disposed Mubarak from power to frighten Israel to reconsider Obama’s terms of the peace process.
Such instability never hardly occurred under the 30 years of Mubarak but all of a sudden the Egyptian army, which de facto runs the country allowed such events to run loose. Reason being, Netanyahu was in conflict with the Obama administration’s decisions concerning the peace process, and the United States wanted to teach Israel that its destiny remains in the superpower’s hands.
Comparably, Syria aided the U.S by allowing the revolution to spill into the Golan Heights in 2011, terrorising Israel’s security, which also could have been prevented. Syria has been a long term ally of the U.S and for decades has been safeguarding its interests in the region till the civil unrest took place in Syria. For the U.S, Syria has always maintained Israel’s security in secret by tacitly consenting to its existence through invoking the 1967 loss of the Golan Heights to its public.
As Netanyahu resisted U.S demands, Israel’s security all of a sudden came crashing down since the U.S wanted to remind Israel’s of its true place. Similarly, in 2012, Saudi Arabia pledged to increase its support for the Palestinians by sending $200 million, which was the same aid that was halted to the Palestinians by the U.S earlier on. Hence, the former illustrates that the U.S consented to Saudi Arabia’s action. During this same period, Turkey also expelled the Israeli ambassador from Ankara. Turkey launched its attacks on Israel more openly at that time where Erdoğan, said, “Israel is the West’s spoiled child”.
Moreover, the U.S Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta also warned Israel that it was at risk of isolating itself in the region. Panetta told reporters on his plane., “It’s pretty clear, at this dramatic time in the Middle East when there have been so many changes, that it is not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated. And that is what has happened,”. He also said, “is it enough to maintain an military edge if you are isolating yourself diplomatically?”
This was a message to Israel to accept U.S demands for a peace process. Otherwise, the U.S would permit neighbouring states to threaten its security, and reluctantly Israel eventually did come to terms towards the peace process, but wasn’t long lasting. After Obama won the re-election, the issue of the peace process went back to stage one, without any progress in sight.
Since Obama didn’t want to oppose Israel openly, he instead utilized the tools available to the U.S to send Israel an indirect message. Thus, the U.S used the Arab rulers in the region and non-Arabs like Erdoğan to attack Israel and isolate it so Israel could be pressured into accepting U.S demands. These predicaments also illustrate that the neighbour states have consented to Israel’s existence but only because they are loyal to the U.S therefore, for them to maintain their power they mostly abide by U.S policies in the region. One of the key policies is to support Israel, whether secretly or openly, and the other is to threaten Israel whenever America deems it necessary in line with its interests.
Moreover, it shows that Israel is, in reality, the weakest state in the region since it is artificially created, and overly dependent on the U.S. Furthermore, the Arabs and the Israelis are all players in America’s great geopolitical game in the Middle East. If the U.S aid permanently stops pouring to Israel and consequently, the neighbouring states especially, Syria and Egypt, also concede their support, it would not take very long for the Jewish state to disintegrate.
Republicans and Democrats: It hardly makes a difference
In summary, it shows how the Obama-Biden administration mistreated, played and deceived both the Palestinians and especially, the Israelis. It further highlights that Israel has been mistreated by both sides of the government- Republicans and Democrats- where they have always failed to fulfil their promises towards Israel fully. Hence, if one wants to talk about anti-Semitism, it largely emanates from America. The only reason that the U.S gives so much importance to Israel is that it is a minority-comes useful to create instability in the region, which also acts as a forward base for the United States. Otherwise, Israel much like others in the region, is viewed as a pawn by the superpower in it’s great game in the Middle East.
The geopolitical forecaster George Friedman also testified to Israel’s reality where he said, “this is the heart of Israel’s problem. It has always been a pawn in US strategy, but a vital pawn…..with multiple players balancing each other and the United States taking the minimum possible action to maintain the equilibrium, Israel finds itself in a complex relationship.”
The only difference is that the Republicans provide more support to Israel than the Democrats. Yet, the two sides’ overall behaviour towards Israel is the same, which is why Netanyahu and his party prefer the lesser of two evils- the Republicans. More importantly, the Republican support within the Jewish lobby towards Israel mainly consists of Evangelical Christians. Hence, the U.S support possesses interests, which may not necessarily always coincide with the interests of Jews or their wellbeing.
Even under Trump, putting the Iran-U.S rhetoric and sanctions aside, the Iranians continue to maintain a presence in the region via its proxies, which continually poses a threat towards Israel’s border security, and this trend has been ongoing for decades now, which doesn’t cease to frustrate Israel.
Nevertheless, it is understandable why Netanyahu is not pleased with Trump losing even though he congratulated Biden on his recent victory. In reality, the new administration would most probably follow the same suit of the previous Democratic administration of the White House. Where, unfortunately, Israel would be left feeling betrayed once more.