Recently on FOX News Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adroitly sidestepped host Chris Wallace’s question about Israel’s interest in the upcoming American presidential election. And rightly so. Whatever the outcome of the election here in the United States, the long-standing relationship Israel maintains with this country is of singular importance that has a direct bearing on Israel’s safety and security. And while the values and principles shared by the people of both countries will continue to be all important, it doesn’t mean that Israelis don’t have a preference, but that preference might be better for the sake of the long term relationship remain unstated. The hypothetical question then of how Bibi Netanyahu might vote if he were a US voter is one that’s interesting to ponder for in effect, it is a question that also speaks to how the Israeli polity feels about the United States at this point in time.
I have not talked to the Prime Minister about this, but in my years of serving him as his Chief of Staff, I feel that there are some of the issues that would particularly resonate with him if he were focused on a personal vote instead of being charged with a national mandate. The fact is that Obama Administration policies developed and implemented over the past three years have raised serious doubts about the direction and depth of the this Administration’s commitment to Israel. Here are some which I think are notable, warrant concern and might have a bearing on how Bibi and most Israelis feel about the Presidential campaign here.
* Two weeks ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Egypt and listened to the new Egyptian Foreign Minister declare his belief that the Camp David Accords of 1978 conferred upon Palestinians something he called a “right to have their own state on the land that was – the pre-June 4, 1967, borders with Jerusalem as its capital”. There is no such provision in those documents and Secretary Clinton, as a party to those agreements, ought not have let those comments stand without comment. It is hard to believe that a Kissinger, or Eagleburger or Shultz or Powell, or Rice would have allowed those assertions stand unremarked.
* The Obama Administration just convened its very own “Global Counterterrorism Forum” and invited 29 nations to meet on this subject, but Israel was not one of them. Bowing to Turkey’s insistence to exclude Israel from the conference, the US further insulted Israel by not even mentioning her as a victim of terrorist violence in her representative’s prepared remarks. U.S. Undersecretary of State, Maria Otero, failed to mention Israel as a country that has experienced terrorism while reading a long list of other nations that did. This was a US sponsored event, not a UN one where behavior of this type is expected as a matter of course.
* The Obama defense budget for Fiscal Year 2013, excludes funding for the promised US-Israeli initiative “Iron Dome”, a jointly built missile defense shield designed to secure Israel from Iranian missiles. This despite the platitudes spoken by both Obama and Clinton in the weeks leading up to the budget submission that the U.S. budget would continue to ensure Israel’s ability to defend herself. This brings into question the long-standing predisposition of the United States to guarantee Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.