The term "reassessment" appeared in the Israel-US relationship in 1975: Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attempted to press the Rabin government to withdraw IDF troops from the armistice lines of the Yom Kippur War. Kissinger initiated a freeze on all arms deliveries from the US and even hinted of stricter moves. Rabin was not frightened and enlisted the US Senate in Israel's favor. President Ford and Kissinger yielded.
Yet even during that well-known crisis, the US did not touch the holy of holies in respect to the strategic understandings with Israel: The "nuclear ambiguity" policy. Since these understandings were secured between President Johnson and Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969, they were clear to all parties. "Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East," said Eshkol and Peres, Golda and Rabin, and everyone who came after them. US presidents came and went – at times they wondered; other times they asked for clarifications – yet ultimately they always accepted the formula and pledged to preserve it.
And then came Obama.
After being elected, he too pledged to Benjamin Netanyahu that he would maintain Israel's nuclear ambiguity policy, yet a month ago he betrayed it, when signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty unanimously urged Israel to ratify the treaty and open its facilities to outside supervision.
Israel did not sign the treaty. Iran did sign it, yet it races towards a nuclear bomb uninterruptedly. Syria and Libya signed the treaty as well, a fact that did not prevent them from establishing uranium enrichment facilities for military aims. North Korea carried out a nuclear test and shows contempt to the world threatening it. Pakistani scientists sold nuclear know-how to Iran, Syria, Libya, and possibly to North Korea as well.
Yet in the face of this reckless industry, the US "capitulated" to the Egyptian initiative and identified Israel alone as a state the world should be concerned about. Israel was the only state named in the document produced by the NPT committee. Our sites are the only ones which the world wants to monitor.
Hence, there is a need to reassess the Israel-US relationship.
We can no longer rely on US
Even if we still need the billions in military aid, the markets, and the ammunition provided by the US, and even if our international isolation is growing – we can no longer rely on US support. Israel must reassess the value of all US promises, written or those delivered time and again via festive statements or behind closed doors. Those who betrayed us without batting an eyelid in respect to an existential issue will not hesitate to dodge any other pledge.
Obama presses the State of Israel to freeze all construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and to accept dictates that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the country. In exchange he will be willing to provide us with guarantees on safeguarding our security and our technological advantage, and on demilitarizing the Palestinian state. Yet why should anyone in Israel be willing to assume existential risks while relying on the pledge of US president who betrayed and denied all the pledges made by his predecessors, while also forgetting his own explicit commitments?
Seemingly, the tougher our situation, the smaller our room for maneuver vis-à-vis the US. However, it is precisely when we have our back against the wall and know that we have no one to trust, that Israel can turn the lack of flexibility into toughness and the lack of choice into strength. Clearing the doubts is a form of strength too. The insight that there is no value to US pledges is worth much more. Even a poor man will not agree to give away the little he has in exchange for a worthless piece of paper.
The extent of Obama's betrayal to the American public must be exposed today. As the November elections in the US approach, Netanyahu can imitate Rabin's 1975 achievements. Obama is not scarier than Ford. Clinton doesn't love us less than Kissinger. The sea is the same sea, the Arabs have remained the same too, yet the wall at our back is much closer.
Knesset Member Prof. Aryeh Eldad (National Union)