Sunday, September 13, 2009


Rift between U.S. and Israel

According to a newsletter that arrives by e-mail every day, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel stated that there is a disagreement between Israel and the United States about how to restart the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The Obama Administration wants Israel to stop all activity related to building settlements in "Palestinian" land. Many other countries agree with this American position. New settlements are very important to Netanyahu and he refuses to stop settlement construction without very important concessions from the surrounding Arab governments.

In my humble opinion, Netanyahu and his supporters have no interest whatever in freezing the building of new settlements. His position is that there should not be a Palestinian state and that Jews from any part of the world have a God-given right to live anywhere they choose in Biblical Israel. His policy and that of the Likud Party is to continue construction of new settlements and the acquisition of new land for them and to make life for the Palestinians so unpleasant and inconvenient that they will simply leave Biblical Israel and settle in some other Arab country, such as Jordan or Syria.

Netanyahu negotiates from a strong hand. Israel occupies or controls the entire area of Biblical Israel. There is only one way that the U.S. can force Israel to discontinue, even temporarily, the continuing acquisition of land and the building of new settlements. That way is to reduce or cut off the American foreign aid that goes to Israel. Israel is the largest beneficiary of American foreign aid. If we cut off the flow of money, Israel would rather quickly have to come to heel. It can not survive without the subsidy, in my opinion.

Cutting off or reducing the subsidy to Israel would raise hell politically here in the United States. The "jewish vote" is an important constituency of the Democratic Party and Representatives from districts with large Jewish populations would be up in arms about reducing the subsity. This constituency is predominantly liberal and progressive on other issues, and the Administration can not afford to alienate it lest, for example, the health care reform loses important support in this constituency.

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