Despite the Trump administration’s absolute bias towards Israel, the history of US-Israeli relations is not without minor differences. For example, US President Dwight Eisenhower announced in 1956 his country’s anger at Israel’s seizure of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip in a campaign with France and Britain. He threatened to suspend vital financial support to Israel unless it withdraws. The reason for the American position may be the fear of the increase in British and French influence in the Middle East region.
In 1975, the administration of US President Gerald Ford threatened to reassess relations with Israel unless Israel signed a disengagement agreement with Egypt in order to withdraw from the Sinai.
The US condemned Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, and the US supported Iraq during the first Gulf War against Iran.
In 1990, the then US Secretary of State, James Baker, said that the US was growing angry due to Israel’s stalling in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians. He also announced the White House’s phone number and said, “When you’re serious about this, call us.” In 2004, President Bush wrote a letter to then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in which he said “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”
Those observing US-Israeli relations would notice that President Obama’s two presidential terms witnessed a crisis reflecting the state of mistrust between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu due to their disagreement over the Israeli settlements and Iranian nuclear file. Meanwhile, the Trump administration was more responsive to the Israeli positions and approaches, as evidenced by increasing American pressure on the Palestinians, which culminated in moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and stopping aid to UNRWA during 2018.
Partners in violence
It is worth noting that despite the emergence of some differences in the framework of US-Israeli relations, they did not affect the essence of these strategic relations, as Israel played and plays an important role in the framework of US interests in the Middle East region. This has been confirmed by the American and Israeli media alike.
The successive American administrations since 1948 have responded to the strategy based on developing the alliance with Israel as a fundamental need in the heart of the Arab region. Accordingly, the US strengthened and established its relations with Israel in various political, economic, cultural and diplomatic fields, and this was evident in the American support for Israel in the corridors of the UN. It has used its veto power against any attempt to issue a resolution condemning Israel’s aggressive and arbitrary practices against the defenceless Palestinian people.
The US tended to support Israel during the first and second intifada periods, and before that, American pressure on the UN, which in turn cancelled the resolution that equates racism with Israel. Moreover, US aid to Israel was known to be the most important part of US support for Israel, and that aid solved many economic crises. This is not to mention its important role in modernising the Israeli military machine and equipping it with all types of advanced American technology.
In this context, the value of US aid to Israel during the period between 1948 and 2020 was estimated at $147 billion dollars, about 60 per cent of which was the value of military aid, and the remaining 40 per cent was the value of economic aid.
America has allocated an cumulative amount of aid amounting to $38 billion dollars during the period between 2018 and 2028, at the rate of $3.8 billion annually, making the US Israel’s main partner in its continued aggression and violence against the Palestinian people.
Summoning an ally
Since its inception in 1948, until its aggression against the Arab countries in 1967, Israel relied on two allies with political and military weight, namely Britain and France. After the aforementioned year, the US became Israel’s supporter and strategic ally, and Israel played a fundamental role in the context of American interests in the Middle East region.
One can assume that the future of Israel’s position within the framework of US interna tional relations depends and is largely linked to the US-Israeli strategic relations on the one hand, and the influence of the Israeli lobby in US decision-making centres on the other hand. Those who observe that relationship will notice that the organised influence of the lobby in the US, as well as the importance of Israel’s role in the framework of American Middle Eastern interests, despite sometimes insignificant differences, will preserve an important place for Israel in the framework of US-Israeli relations in the long-run. Therefore, Israel will remain an important strategic need and asset to the US.
As for talk in Israeli circles about the possibility of Israel letting go of its alliance with the US in light of Israel achieving economic growth rates exceeding its population growth rates, such talk is delusional. This is especially since the successive American administrations provided generous aid to Israel, which contributed to the absorption of hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants and to funding Israel’s violent military campaigns against the Palestinian people and Arab counties.
The successive American administrations also contributed in compensating Israel for its financial and military losses after its wars against the Arab countries, as well as thwarting draft international resolutions that would have condemned Israel’s expansionist and Judaising policies and practices towards the Palestinian people and their land. In this sense Israel can be considered to be America’s dagger in the Middle East region.
This article first appeared in AlQuds on 16 August 2020
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.