No Need for Another Fight

No Need for Another Fight

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

This week the U.S. and Israel signed the largest bi-lateral aid arrangement ever between the two countries—the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); $38 billion dollars over 10 years. Despite this fact, there are strong Israel political supporters in the U.S. who are suggesting that he should have demanded more; that Netanyahu sold out too cheap. There are also Israeli opposition leaders led by Ehud Barak who are insinuating that by selling out so cheaply and with additional purchasing restrictions, Bibi damaged the Israeli defense industry. On top of that there are voices among some Jewish leaders in the U.S. who are angry that there also was an understanding that Israel would acquiesce to U.S. assistance to the Palestinians as well.

Objectively speaking all these arguments are correct but they are strictly motivated by various political agendas and are ignoring the fact that there was indeed a genuine compromise reached with the Obama Administration over the more contentious points in the negotiations. On the whole it was a very acceptable arrangement. The MOU even permits Israel the right to make requests for additional military support—especially defensive equipment–above the MOU caps, should Israel face a serious military crisis.

The frustrating issue here is that it appears that Bibi cannot just let the Obama Administration appear to have done that which most outside observers have argued was a very positive arrangement. Throughout his presidency the President has maintained a military relationship with Israel in which Israel has received more military support and assistance from the U.S. than it ever had before, from any Administration. The two heads of state may not like each other personally, but as far as Israel’s military needs are concerned there is little critical that one can suggest about the relationship between the Pentagon and the IDF. In all aspects including intelligence sharing, Israel and the U.S. have been mutually helpful allies. Finally, Netanyahu knows that if a crisis were to emerge or Israel’s immediate needs were not being met, there is a sufficiently strong bi-partisan support for Israel in Congress and throughout Washington that Israel would obtain whatever support it needed in a war.

Netanyahu had already precipitated enough of a fight with Obama for one week. His totally gratuitous, comment that the Palestinians were conducting a policy of “ethnic cleansing” of Jews on the West Bank was confrontational, unnecessary, and un-productive for a leader who continues to purport himself to favor a two state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

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