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News Analysis: Bush Policies Eroding U.S. - Israel Ties

Despite the war on terror and appearances before Aipac, Bush's policies are gradually eroding the strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S., and in the process, undermining U.S. security.
First Publish: 6/14/2005, 4:05 PM / Last Update: 6/14/2005, 5:26 PM

Since the election of George W. Bush, U.S.- Israeli relations have been on a downward spiral. Despite the war on terror and the occasional pro-Israel appearance at Aipac, the facts on the ground indicate that this administration’s policies are no less anti-Israel as the Bush-Baker team of the late 1980’s, which worked to bring down the pro-settlement Likud government of Yitzhak Shamir.

This administration, however, appears to be doing far more damage than merely attempting to influence the course of domestic Israeli politics. Bush’s policies are working to destroy the very fabric of U.S. Israel relations, turning a long-term strategic alliance into an adversarial relationship, where a weakened Israel appears, at least superficially, to serve America’s self-interest.

The latest crisis over Israel arm sales to China is a case in point. The U.S. freely sells billions of dollars worth of its most advanced weapons to countries technically at war with Israel, such as Saudi Arabia, or to countries such as Egypt, that maintain a cold peace with Israel after fighting three unsuccessful wars against the Jewish state.

Yet the United States Defense Department has recently imposed sanctions on Israel’s defense industry for selling Israeli-made weapons to China, one of America’s biggest trading partners and a country that has never fought a war against the United States. Israeli high-tech companies like Elbit may now have a tough time bidding for U.S. defense contracts, such as providing parts and systems for the new F-22 Raptor aircraft, in retaliation for Israel’s sale of unmanned drones to the Chinese.

Israeli contractors have already been excluded from developing the F-35, a futuristic warplane being developed through numerous foreign contractors.

The United States is now demanding that Israel supervise and coordinate all weapons sales with the U.S., a demand that the U.S. would never contemplate making of its erstwhile European allies, France and Germany, countries that are attempting to offset their imports of cheap Chinese goods with arms sales to that country.

The U.S. is also demanding that Israel provide it with details surrounding more than 60 arms deals Israel has made with China over the past few years so that Washington can assess purported damage to U.S. security.

Another U.S. demand is for Israel to make key personnel changes at Israel’s Defense Ministry, in order to provide the U.S. Defense Department with more amenable counterparts.

These one-sided dictates against an allied power prompted the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yuval Steinitz (Likud), to call them “illegitimate and humiliating.”

Steinitz said, “The two countries must establish a mechanism to ensure that arms are not sold to potentially rival states of either countries, but a request to dismiss senior executives in the security establishment is illegitimate and we cannot agree to such demands. It is even humiliating.”

"The relations with the U.S. are important and critical for Israel, but it must maintain its independence and reciprocity in the relations," he added.

Illegitimate and humiliating may go a long way to defining other sore points in the Bush administration’s relationship to Israel.

Another example would be the Bush Road-Map that equates Israeli settlement activity in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, the heartland of the Jewish people, with Arab terrorism. According to the plan, the Palestinian Authority must take measures to curb Arab terrorists while Israel, as a quid pro quo, must stop building Jewish communities and remove settlement outposts in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

George W. Bush is also the first U.S. president to call for the creation of an independent Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Bush wants that state to be territorially contiguous, meaning that he wants Israel to remove dozens of Jewish towns and villages to make way for a new Arab regime that will serve as a springboard for terrorism against Israel and, in all likelihood, against the United States as well.

The Bush administration has also steadfastly refused to consider releasing Jonathan Pollard, now 20 years behind bars for passing classified information to Israel, an ally that used the information to bomb out the atomic reactor that Saddam Hussein was building to use against the United States.

In order to make sure U.S. Israel relations slide even further down hill, the FBI set up former Defense Department official, Larry Franklin, and two former Aipac (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) officials in a sting operation, where non-sensitive, classified information about Iranian operations in Iraq was allegedly brought to the attention of the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Just as the Bush administration is working to weaken Israel militarily and politically in the Middle East, the Aipac scandal may be designed to erode domestic U.S. support for the Jewish State.

Bush, by weakening Israel and applying a double standard to Israeli arm sales abroad, ultimately is undermining U.S. security. Weakening Israel inadvertently means strengthening terror, radical Islam, and those forces committed to destroying the United States.

Ironically, the threat to the U.S. is not Israel-made drones in China, but Arab-made suicide bombers and Islamic fanatics that are working feverishly to commit another atrocity against the United States. That threat looms larger as America, sadly, loosens and gradually looses, its strategic relationship with Israel.