Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
September 18, 2023
The September 20, 2023 meeting
On Wednesday, September 20, 2023, President Biden will meet Prime Minister Netanyahu in order to intensify the pressure on Israel to refrain from an independent military action against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Biden will, also, pressure Netanyahu to make significant concessions to the Palestinian Authority, which would facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Should/could Prime Minister Netanyahu repel President Biden’s pressure?
Does President Biden’s pressure advance regional stability and US interests?
US pressure has been an integral part of US-Israel relations since 1948. In hindsight, it resembles bumps in the road of staggering, mutually-beneficial US-Israel cooperation, militarily and commercially, which has yielded substantial benefits to the US economy and defense.
In most cases, the pressure has been defied by Israel, triggering short term friction, but long term strengthened US strategic appreciation of Israel.
For instance, at the end of a 1991 meeting between Prime Minister Shamir and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, Senators George Mitchell and Bob Dole, which was replete with disagreements, the latter said: “Mr. Prime Minister, do you know why the Majority Leader and I absolutely disagree with you, but immensely respect you? Because you’re tough!”
On a rainy day, the US prefers a strong backboned, principle-driven ally, who does not succumb to pressure, refusing to sacrifice long term historic and national security assets on the altar of short term diplomatic, economic and strategic convenience.
Israel’s defiance of pressure benefits the US
In fact, Israeli defiance of US pressure – which has been mostly instigated by the State Department’s misreading of the Middle East – has spared the US major setbacks. For example:
*If Israel had surrendered to US pressure in 1981 and 2007, it would not have destroyed nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria, which spared the US, Saudi Arabia and other pro-US oil-producing Arab countries a traumatic 1990-91 confrontation with a nuclear Saddam Hussein. It, also, eliminated the horrific option of a nuclear civil war in Syria, a nuclear ISIS or a nuclear Assad.
*If Israel had succumbed to pressure in 1948-49, to withdraw to the suicidal lines of the “1947 Partition Plan,” Israel would not have evolved into the most effective force-multiplier for the US. This spared the US the necessity of deploying more aircraft carriers and ground troops in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, saving an annual cost of mega billions of dollars.
*If Israel had submitted to US pressure in 1967, it would not have pre-empted and crushed the Soviet-backed Egypt-Syria-Jordan military offensive, expunging the Egyptian-Soviet drive to topple all pro-US Arab oil-producing regimes. This would have devastated the US economy and national security, at a time when the US was heavily dependent on Persian Gulf oil.
*If Israel had not fended off severe US pressure and refrained from the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights, and eventually retreating from the Golan Heights, it would not have been able to constrain Russian, Iranian and Syrian maneuverability in Syria and Lebanon, while bolstering the defense of the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan, which has enhanced US interests.
*If Israel had not stood up to US pressure, allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, it would have led to the toppling of the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the Jordan River, transforming Jordan into an uncontrollable platform of anti-US Islamic terrorism, posing a lethal threat to all pro-US oil-producing Arab regimes. This would have upgraded the stature of Iran, Russia and China at the expense of the US economy, national security and homeland security.
The bottom line
Principle-driven defiance of US pressure is critical to Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is a major component of the US posture in the Middle East, generating stability and deterring anti-US rogue entities.
Moreover, Israeli failure to fend off pressure yields more pressure, which would erode Israel’s posture of deterrence, intensifying terror and war and destabilizing the Middle East at the expense of Israel, the pro-US Arab regimes and the US economy and defense.