OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden will pressure Netanyahu

Principled rejection of American pressure has benefited both Israel and the United States.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO.
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 20 in order to intensify pressure on Israel to refrain from 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 Netanyahu repel Biden’s pressure? Does Biden’s pressure advance regional stability and U.S. interests?

U.S. pressure has been a fixture of U.S.-Israel relations since 1948. In hindsight, it resembles bumps in the road of staggering, mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel cooperation, which has yielded substantial benefits to the U.S. economy and defense.

In most cases, the pressure has been defied by Israel, triggering short-term friction, but over the long term, it strengthened U.S. strategic appreciation of Israel.

For example, at the end of a 1991 meeting between then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders 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!”

The United States 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 America

In fact, Israeli defiance of U.S. pressure has spared the U.S. major setbacks.

If Israel had surrendered to U.S. pressure in 1981 and 2007, it would not have destroyed nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria, which spared the United States, Saudi Arabia and other pro-U.S. oil-producing Arab countries a traumatic 1990-91 confrontation with a nuclear Saddam Hussein. Israel also eliminated the horrific possibilities of a nuclear civil war in Syria, a nuclear ISIS and 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 United States. This spared the United States the necessity of deploying more aircraft carriers and ground troops in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, saving many billions of dollars annually.

If Israel had submitted to U.S. pressure in 1967, it would not have preempted and crushed the Soviet-backed Egypt-Syria-Jordan military offensive. Israel’s victory put an end to the Egyptian-Soviet drive to topple all pro-U.S. Arab oil-producing regimes. This would have devastated the U.S. economy and national security at a time when the United States was heavily dependent on Persian Gulf oil.

If Israel had not fended off severe U.S. pressure to refrain from the application of Israeli law to and eventually retreat from the Golan Heights, it would not have been able to constrain Russian, Iranian and Syrian maneuverability in Syria and Lebanon while also bolstering the defense of the pro-U.S. Hashemite regime in Jordan, which has enhanced U.S. interests.

If Israel had not stood up to U.S. pressure, it would have allowed the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. This would have led to the toppling of the Hashemite regime east of the Jordan River, transforming Jordan into an uncontrollable platform for anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism that would pose a lethal threat to all pro-U.S. oil-producing Arab regimes. This would have upgraded the stature of Iran, Russia and China at the expense of the U.S. economy, national security and homeland security.

The bottom line

Principle-driven defiance of U.S. pressure is critical to Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is a major component of the U.S. posture in the Middle East, generating stability and deterring anti-U.S. 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-U.S. Arab regimes, and the U.S. economy and defense.

Originally published by The Ettinger Report.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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