President Barack Obama has done away with two key elements of US-Israeli strategic relations: His administration has given up on stiff UN Security Council sanctions on Iran over its nuclear drive, and gone back on the longstanding American commitment assuring Israel of recognized and defensible borders in any future accommodation with its Arab neighbors.
In the administration's message of congratulations to Israel on its 62nd Day of Independence, US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton mentions "recognized borders" while omitting the traditional "defensible."
debkafile's Washington sources report that following the talks held by Presidents Obama and Hu Jintao in Washington last week, the Administration is apparently engaged in a debate about whether to push for tough sanctions against Iran at the Security Council and run into opposition from China and other countries – or go for a quick UN General Assembly resolution, which would be non-binding.
The view William Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, offered the House foreign affairs committee last week was that a UN resolution would clear the way for the European Union and other countries to "amplify the impact" of whatever sanctions are agreed on. Burns avoided mentioning the Security Council and indicated that the administration had little hope of any effective action on Iran by the world body.
It will be recalled that President Obama twice asked Israel to ignore Iran's missed deadlines and promised to promote effective UN Security Council sanctions if Iran continued to spurn his diplomatic efforts for curbing its nuclear program.
The last deadline was in December, 2009.
Yet on Monday, April 19, clearly lagging behind events in Washington, Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak said: "Now is the time for sanctions (against Iran)."
He was answering questions in a radio interview on Israel's annual day of mourning for its fallen servicemen
Neither he nor any other Israeli leader commented on an equally serious setback for Israel in Washington, which emerge from a conspicuous omission in Clinton's message of congratulations for Israel's Independence Day, which is celebrated Monday night and Tuesday:
"I have a deep personal commitment to Israel," she said. "And so does President Obama. Our nation will not waver in protecting Israel’s security and promoting Israel’s future. That is why pursuing peace and recognized borders for Israel is one of our top priorities."
By omitting "defensible borders" from her message, she spoke for the first US administration to abdicate its guarantee of defensible borders as a fundamental component of Israel's security, thereby nullifying her and the US president's pledge not to "waver in protecting Israel's security."
This key omission led to another worrying question about Israel's future borders: By whom must they be recognized in the view of the Obama administration?