Jason Greenblatt and camouflaging US pressure on Israel
Jason Greenblatt and camouflaging US pressure on Israel

U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt is unhappy about my criticism of the proposal to link by road Hamas-run Gaza to the Palestinian Authority-run territories.

In a tweet on July 19, Greenblatt wrote that my recent Arutz Sheva / IsraelNationalNews.com op-ed about his Hamas-Palestinian Authority corridor plan "got it wrong," because the corridor "can only be a part of a comprehensive deal if it is acceptable to Israel & all security issues can be thoroughly addressed."

Greenblatt's argument might seem reasonable at first glance. But if you think about it a little further, and you consider the historical record of how the U.S. has pushed its previous Middle East "peace deals" on Israel, you quickly see that there are fallacies in his argument.

Let’s start with the most obvious: Greenblatt doesn’t address the actual merits of his plan. That tells you a lot. He doesn’t explain how the U.S. could possibly guarantee that Hamas would not use the corridor to smuggle weapons and terrorists.

Not only that, but Greenblatt’s tweet doesn’t address the specific complaints that Israeli officials have already raised about the proposal, according to news reports by both Israel's Channel 13 and the U.S. based Axios news website. 

"The Israelis recently gave U.S. officials" —meaning Greenblatt and his aides— "examples of how even today—with no transportation corridor and Israel in full control of Gaza’s borders—Hamas attempts to transfer operatives, messages and know-how from Gaza to the West Bank by exploiting entry permits granted for humanitarian reasons." those news reports revealed.

Instead, Greenblatt wraps himself in the tired old argument about how the corridor will be created only "if it is acceptable to Israel." In the past, that kind of language has been diplomatese for forcing Israel to accept something and then declaring that it’s "acceptable to Israel." 

The history of U.S. Middle East diplomacy is filled with examples of such mistreatment of America’s only reliable and democracy ally in the region.

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was a master of such tactics. In early 1975, he demanded that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdraw Israeli troops from both the strategic Mitla Pass and Gidi Pass in Sinai, in exchange for a vague Egyptian statement that conflicts should "not be resolved by military force."

Because the Mitla Pass had been the site of major battles between the Egypt and Israel during the Sinai War in 1956, the Six Day War in 1967, and also the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Rabin refused. Kissinger announced a "reassessment" of U.S.-Israel relations, in which all American arms shipments to Israel were halted. The pressure forced Rabin to succumb. Six months later, Rabin signed the agreement that he had previously rejected. Kissinger pretended that he hadn’t pressured Israel; supposedly Rabin was accepting it of his own volition. 

The Israelis handle their relationship with the United States extremely carefully. Obviously they are not going to start loudly criticizing an administration whose support and friendship they urgently desire. All too often, Israel’s leaders have quietly surrendered to U.S. pressure—but not because they wanted to.

  • Did Golda Meir want to refrain from a preemptive strike when the Arabs were preparing to invade in 1973? Of course not, but Kissinger threatened that she would lose US support if she struck first.

  • Did Menachem Begin want to withdraw Israel’s troops from southern Lebanon in 1978, knowing that PLO terrorists would quickly resume their attacks from there? Of course not, but President Jimmy Carter brutally pressured the Israelis to withdraw.

  • Did Benjamin Netanyahu want to freeze all Jewish construction in Judea-Samaria for ten months in 2009-2010 as a "gesture" to the Palestinian Authority, even though such gestures had proven to be completely worthless time and again? Of course not, but President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry pressured him relentlessly.

Each time, U.S. officials pretended that Israel’s one-sided concessions were what Israel itself wanted. And each time, the Israelis remained quiet, rather than upset the U.S.-Israel relationship.

We all hope it will be different this time. We all hope that there is finally an administration in Washington that will stop pressuring and bullying Israel into making one-sided concessions and then pretending that it was all what Israel always wanted.

But when we hear Jason Greenblatt using the same kind of language and arguments that Kissinger, Carter and Obama used to undermine Israel, we may have reason to worry.

Moshe Phillips is national director of Herut North America’s U.S. division; Herut is an international movement for Zionist pride and education and is dedicated to the ideals of pre-World War Two Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Herut's website is https://herutna.org/