US aid deal gives green light to Israel’s erasure of Palestine

Israel/Palestine
on 37 Comments

The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion to $3.8bn a year – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.

In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.

Netanyahu’s agreement to such terms has incensed Israeli loyalists in Congress such as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been fighting Netanyahu’s corner to win an even larger aid handout from US taxpayers. He accused the Israeli prime minister on Friday of having “pulled the rug from under us”.

As Ehud Barak, Netanyahu’s former defence minister, also pointed out in a series of TV interviews in Israel, the deal fails to take into account either inflation or the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.

A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.

Netanyahu preferred to sign the deal now rather than wait till the next president is installed, even though Clinton and her Republican challenger, Donald Trump, are expected to be even more craven towards Israel. That appears to reflect Netanyahu’s fear that the US political environment will be more uncertain after the election and could lead to long delays in an agreement, and apprehension about the implications for Israel of Trump’s general opposition to foreign aid.

Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even the New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.

Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.

But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.

Almost no one implicates the US in Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria, however, would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own large nuclear arsenal.

In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.

The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.

Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.

The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyber­warfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash with Israel and its loyalists in Congress over Palestinian statehood.

Some believe that Obama signed the aid agreement to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Netanyahu into making peace.

Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate the unity necessary to confound critics of the aid deal.

If Obama really wanted to pressure Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.

Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act again the Palestinians with continuing impunity and lots of US military hardware.

A version of this article first appeared in the National Abu Dhabi.

About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is jonathan-cook.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

37 Responses

  1. Boomer
    September 20, 2016, 1:04 pm

    “Erasure” is the right word. Consider it done. President Obama just addressed the UN. He talked about refugees extensively, but didn’t use the words “Palestine” or “Palestinians,” (at least I didn’t find them in the transcript provided by Politico).

    link to politico.com

    • Kay24
      September 20, 2016, 1:58 pm

      I also heard him criticize the Palestinians for the violence, and then (surprise, surprise!) criticize Israel for the illegal settlements. I could not believe he used the “O” word, but then this is his last speech at the UN and he has nothing to lose. I wish he was a little more elaborate in the criticism.

      Israel Can Not Permanently Occupy Palestinian Lands: Obama

      http://www.caribflame.com/2016/09/israel-can-not-permanently-occupy-palestinian-lands-obama/

      • Boomer
        September 21, 2016, 6:48 am

        Thanks Kay, I checked the transcript at another site (Time) and found this:

        “And surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.”

        I don’t know why I didn’t find that in my earlier search. For me, it isn’t much better than silence. He seems to blame the Palestinians, while offering nothing more than a statement that is false on its face regarding Israel. Israel has been occupying and settling Palestinian land for longer than most people have been alive. It continues to do so with impunity, and is able to do so because of vast amounts of help from the U.S.

    • silamcuz
      September 21, 2016, 2:46 am

      How is Palestine being erased?

      • amigo
        September 21, 2016, 1:00 pm

        “How is Palestine being erased?” silmascuz

        Try looking here !!

        mondoweiss.net/2016/09/berkeley-students-palestine/

        You posted on that thread.Do you need specs??.

  2. Ossinev
    September 20, 2016, 1:16 pm

    @boomer
    The Haaretz and Jerusalem headline articles are both stating that Obama said that “Israel cannot permanently occupy Palestinian lands” ?
    http://www.haaretz.com/
    http://www.jpost.com/

    Cue “bus” and “under” from the JSIL Firsters in the land of the free and home of the cowards when it comes to JSIL.

    • Boomer
      September 21, 2016, 6:52 am

      Thanks for the correction, Ossinev. As I told Kay, I checked the transcript at another site (Time) and found this:

      “And surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.”

      As I told Kay, I don’t know why I didn’t find that in my earlier search at the other site. For me, what he said isn’t much better than silence. He seems to blame the Palestinians, while offering nothing more than a statement that is false on its face regarding Israel.

      Israel has been occupying and settling Palestinian land for longer than most of us have been alive. Israel continues to do so with impunity, and is able to do that because of vast amounts of help from the U.S. . . . including help on his watch. He did nothing to stop the attacks on Gaza, for example. Instead, he sent more weapons to Israel to replenish their supply.

      • Kay24
        September 21, 2016, 7:05 am

        Boomer, I was a little surprised he mentioned this, but NONE in the zio media seem to have brought that up, after all we have just signed a very expensive aid package to those that think they can occupy Palestinian lands and steal it, and yet Obama simply played bad cop by pretending we do not like that occupation. Our actions say different. Surely that is newsworthy?

  3. DaBakr
    September 20, 2016, 1:35 pm

    A) author sounds totally glum at the prospects of the US maintaining its military edge along with Israel maintaining its roll as staunch ally.

    B) it was not Ariel Sharon who quipped” on the nation of Israel being the US aircraft carrier in the region. You’ll have to go back years to an infamous Republican senator

    • Jackdaw
      September 20, 2016, 3:02 pm

      The author is always glum. He is an ex-pat Brit, who married an Arab Christian and now lives in Nazareth, surrounded by non-Christian Jews and Arabs.

      Not a happy guy.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 20, 2016, 3:20 pm

        for the most part jews are non christians. do you mean he is not happy because he lives in nazareth surrounded by jews and arabs? or he’s not happy because he’s married to a christian arab? or he’s not happy because he’s british? what exactly do you mean by your comment?

      • DaBakr
        September 20, 2016, 3:59 pm

        @a

        Yeah. I don’t actually get the drift of that. ” non-christian Jews” are what? And Arabs? What, Muslim or Christian Arabs? Just not sure why any of these particulates would contribute to his glumness

      • echinococcus
        September 20, 2016, 5:51 pm

        Did Jack… daw just try to suggest that Jonathan Cook is a religious fanatic who can’t happily exist in the presence of people of other religions?
        One never gets an answer to any direct question from the Zionists here, by the way. Strange, isn’t it? Is Jack… daw going to make an exception?

      • RoHa
        September 20, 2016, 11:44 pm

        Probably not happy because he’s British. The combination of climate and history has taught the British that gloom is the natural state of affairs, and they feel uncomfortable when anything threatens to lift their depression.

      • RoHa
        September 21, 2016, 12:10 am

        Incidentally, Annie, what has happened to the user profiles?

      • Annie Robbins
        September 21, 2016, 11:52 am

        i have no idea

      • Mooser
        September 21, 2016, 12:38 pm

        “Not a happy guy.”

        Not like you, “Jackdaw”. Your happiness and joie de vivre shines from every comment. No doubt it is typical of Israelis.

      • Mooser
        September 21, 2016, 2:20 pm

        “The combination of climate and history has taught the British that gloom is the natural state of affairs”

        Working another’s profit and seeking another’s gain is a tough roe to hoe down. And when the wages are an empty sleeve and stiff-set knee?

  4. eljay
    September 20, 2016, 1:36 pm

    “No light between”: Israel and the U.S. continue to fellate each other as the bodies pile up around them.

    • Kay24
      September 20, 2016, 2:05 pm

      Yes, Israel is the “mini-me” of the US. Maybe that is why the US allows them to get away with massacres, lies, and the occupation. Two peas in a pod, one a welfare queen, the other the sugar daddy.

      • Citizen
        September 20, 2016, 8:26 pm

        This film character, Master Blaster, works quite well too re US-Israel special relationship in this world: Master is the brains and Blaster is the brawn when it comes to running the massive methane power plant, Underworld, located underneath Bartertown, Master exercises his will while Blaster uses his imposing size to keep the workers in line.

  5. Steve6644
    September 20, 2016, 2:33 pm

    The US is only implicit in the crimes Israel commits. By giving Israel $$B’s it is a green light. So much for justice for all.

    • silamcuz
      September 21, 2016, 2:43 am

      Palestine will never be erased regardless if Israel gets 38 billion or 38 trillion in aid. What a laughable assertion to make.

      Have we not learned anything from the rapidly disintegrating settler-colonial project on Turtle Island? As long as the tiniest bit of Native DNA exist within the human genome, the resistance will go on.

      USA will fall, just as Israel will.

  6. echinococcus
    September 20, 2016, 4:09 pm

    Excellent article, but the new website sucks.

  7. brent
    September 21, 2016, 11:46 am

    Obama speaks experience, logic and reason to Israelis and Palestinians. Neither side, or supporters, will likely hear his message while citing their “truths” and justifications.

    Enough is not enough at this point. Humanity remains in danger.

    • ritzl
      September 21, 2016, 11:55 am

      Since you used sneer quotes around “truths,” please give an example of an obstructing “truth” from the ooccupied, suppressed, and colonized Palestinian side. Or are those the Palestinian “truths” you sneer at?

      Cheers.

  8. MHughes976
    September 21, 2016, 4:23 pm

    I don’t think Obsma is seeking to erase Palestine but to get it established on 2ss terms: I think that this is fairly clear from his whole record. Whether he can trap, force or trick Netanyahu into making a genuine 2ss offer, as even Mr. Cook seems to think is Obama’s intention. may well be doubted. One significant problem is that the 2ss, accepting the right of non-Jewish people to exist in the Holy Land by inherent right, without Jewish grace and generosity, is contrary to Zionist principles.
    I think British weather can be quite encouraging. So did Keats.
    I often agree with Echino, very strongly this time about the sucking new format. Do something, please!

    • Mooser
      September 21, 2016, 5:31 pm

      Sometimes, I wish Mssrs. Keats and Yeats had gone into the fruit-preserve business, instead of the poetry racket.

      • Mooser
        September 22, 2016, 3:51 pm

        I mean, that would be a heck of a thing to spread on your toast.

    • echinococcus
      September 21, 2016, 6:54 pm

      I often agree with you, too, Hughes, except that I can’t believe that Obama would ever need a “genuine” 2-states offer.

      He’d be more than delighted with an under-Bantustan run by Marshal Pétain himself, in control perhaps of its own dogcatcher and recognized by the Arab League, the locals being granted survival as long as they can play Helots to the so-called “settlers”.

      As you say, though, Zionism does not allow it. Luckily not.

    • RoHa
      September 22, 2016, 2:00 am

      For all his lauding of mists and mellow fruitfulness, he kept catching cold, and, ultimately, TB. Ended up going to Rome for the warmer climate, but too late.

  9. Spring Renouncer
    September 21, 2016, 5:16 pm

    I’m feeling so utterly discouraged. The United States doesn’t function as a democracy.

  10. Ossinev
    September 22, 2016, 9:30 am

    @MHughes976
    To me it is blindingly obvious from the sheer scale of the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (still growing 24/7 – 365/365 ) as well as their disparate locations that the “Two State Solution” is a complete and utter delusion. It will never happen – not only because Zionists were and are determined that it can never happen but because the pace of the growth of the settlements ( including the “legal” and the”illegal” ones ) has surpassed even their wildest expectations. The sheer bulk of the population of these settlements make a reversal impossible and the idea of some sort of shredded,cheesecake walled in / walled out Palestinian State is now a sick joke.

    Obama/Kerry etc are simply fiddling with their prayer beads on this one and desperately hoping that if they keep repeating the mantras of “peace” and “two states” whilst furtively shoeing in the odd lukewarm reference to “Apartheid” the Yahoo and all the other loony right wing freaks in JSIL will see sense.

    They will never see sense but at least the likes of Obama and Kerry will have the comfort of telling history that “we did tell them” when the openly Apartheid JSIL is staring the world in the face – won`t be long now.

    • eljay
      September 22, 2016, 10:37 am

      It’s funny how Zio-supremacists berate as anti-Semitic anyone who objects to a two-state solution, but thanks to their own insatiable greed and unrelenting pursuit of injustice and immorality they have anti-Semitically made a two-state solution infeasible.

    • MHughes976
      September 22, 2016, 2:00 pm

      It seems that Obama came into office having accepted assurances that Israel would be reasonable and ready to show his confidence and trust in them by appointing their keen supporter Clinton to run his foreign policy. He was praised by profoundly misguided academics for creating a team of rivals. He then made his grand proposal for a settlement freeze, only to find his little client state thumb its nose at him, the most powerful man on earth. I still find it almost unbelievable that he simply backed down, as he did, an action which meant that he never regained the authority he should have had in ME matters and never could fully dispel the air of weakness that hangs over him, though he made an effort over Iran. We won’t know for a while how this was done, but it must have been something to do with the tension and difficulty in cooperation that always existed between him and Clinton.
      How can he not see that the right to indefinite settlement and indefinite will and power to force those settlements into existence implies, cannot but imply, that Palestine will one day be 100% Jewish settled – except for a few spots by grace and favour? He seems to imply that the Israelis ‘cannot’ in the end carry this programme out to the point of erasing Palestine but everything he does seems set, even if not wished or intended, to make the next settlement and the next after that easier – so what sets the limit?

      • talknic
        September 22, 2016, 2:14 pm

        “… so what sets the limit?”

        The Zionist Federation has had over a century to hone it’s skills in collecting information on and being able to threaten people in power in order to have them comply.

        Obama is just another short term US President.

        The Zionist Colonization of Palestine is a long term project, with no back out plan simply because it cannot back out and survive

    • Mooser
      September 22, 2016, 4:02 pm

      “To me it is blindingly obvious from the sheer scale of the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (still growing 24/7 – 365/365”

      Yes, aren’t there at least 10 million people in the settlements? Who could turn around such a large mass of humanity having no place else to go?

Leave a Reply