How to Rebuff US Pressure

Israeli columnists advise PM Netanyahu that by putting Israeli interests first, those who pressure him will end up respecting him.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 11:09

Obama speaking to Netanyahu
Obama speaking to Netanyahu
Israel news photo; White House

Israeli columnists advise Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that by putting Israeli interests first, those who pressure him will end up respecting him.
Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli Consul General to the U.S. and an expert on Israeli-American relations, writes that Israel has often resisted American pressure in the past – earning American respect in the process. For instance, in 1950, 1967, and 1970, various American governments tried to pressure the respective Israeli governments regarding Jerusalem. The U.S. wanted Israel not to assume control of parts of Jerusalem, to cede control over parts of the city, and/or to stop building in the capital.  In each case, Ettinger writes, “the U.S. Administration pressured, Israel constructed, Jerusalem expanded and the Jewish State earned strategic respect.”
"Submission to Pressure Exacerbates Pressure"
The American government has frequently exerted pressure on Israel on others issues as well, often concerning national security. These include Israel’s declaration of independence, construction of a nuclear reactor, striking out at the Egypt-Syria-Jordan military alliance in 1967, bombing Iraq's nuclear reactor, and more. “Defiance of pressure entails short-term cost but enhances long-term national security,” Ettinger concludes. “Submission to pressure exacerbates pressure. Fending off pressure is required, in order to attain strategic goals – [but] avoiding pressure, through concessions, leads to departure from strategic goals.”
Ettinger continues to remind Israelis, as he has been doing for years, that the President of the United States is only one of three branches of government. “U.S. public and Congressional support of Israel is robust,” he writes, giving the following examples:
* 71 Senators signed an August 10, 2009 letter calling upon President Obama to shift pressure from Israel to Arab countries.
* The Democratic Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Howard Berman, called upon Obama to end his preoccupation with settlements.
* The Democratic Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, resents Obama's opposition to Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem. * The strongest (Democratic) Senator, Daniel Inouye, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, is the most effective supporter of the US-Israel connection since 1948. Obama cannot get his legislative agenda without Inouye's support.
* While Congress has reservations about Israel's settlements policy, Congress opposes sanctions against Israel.” 
Following the 1991 Gulf War, Ettinger notes, Israel asked for emergency assistance, which then-President George Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker rejected. However, Congress supported the request, and Israel received $650 million in cash and $700 million in military systems.  This was a year after Bush/Baker attempted to cut 5% of the foreign aid to Israel, ostensibly because of Israel's settlements activity, but Congress opposed the idea and it was rescinded. 
Schiff: Netanyahu Has What to Answer
Sha’ul Schiff, a long-time columnist for the religious-Zionist HaTzofeh newspaper, writes in this week’s B’Sheva that Netanyahu had no reason to stand by quietly during his recent visit to Germany while his hosts made snide comments about the outposts.

It was reported, Schiff wrote, that throughout the visit, Chancellor Merkel, and the local press “did not stop talking about the outposts… In an atmosphere like that, who said the Prime Minister of the State of Israel has to be polite and reserved when standing on the land whose inhabitants destroyed six million Jews? Why should he not stand with Jewish pride before the cameras and the microphones and demand: ‘How can Germany and the European Union allow themselves to be dragged around regarding issues of no consequence, issues that will be determined and decided easily in the framework of a final agreement – while on the agenda stands the question of the destruction of the State of Israel?!’"

"Why should the European Union sponsor Israeli agents to count every Jewish floor tile in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem," Netanyahu could also have asked, according to Schiff, "when Hizbullah is arming with Iranian weapons and plans to destroy Israeli population centers and turn Lebanon into utter chaos as well?’”
Instead of crying, “They’re pressuring me,” Netanyahu should demand, “Where were you and your protests when our civilian population in the south was bombed day and night from the areas from which Israel retreated simply as a gesture towards future peace?’”
Pressure is Only Psychological
The bottom line, Ettinger states, is that Obama’s pressure upon Netanyahu vis-à-vis settlements is only psychological, and nothing more. “He was not elected to uproot Jewish settlements and prevent Jewish construction in Jerusalem… The Arab-Israeli conflict is not among Obama's top priorities, and his position on Israel is not compatible with most Democrats. Obama needs the support of Israel's friends on Capitol Hill, in order to advance his primary domestic and national security/international agendas.”