The Obama administration has gone from poisoned rapier to blunderbuss in its harassment of Israel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Since the prime minister’s re-election last week, US-Israeli relations have plunged to an all-time low, raising the fear of an unbridgeable rift.
Most informed observers in Washington and Jerusalem, while hard put to account for US President Barack Obama’s relentless persecution of the Jewish State, have begun to believe it is part of an obsessive strategy to pull off a historic breakthrough in US relations with Iran. By pushing Israel to the wall, he thinks he will line the Muslim world up against the Jewish State in world bodies, including the UN Security Council, and force the Netanyahu government to accept a compulsory solution of the Palestinian question.
Some observers go further, alleging Obama’s game is to jettison US-Israeli friendship to entice Arab governments into giving up their resistance to his nuclear deal with Iran.
According to this scenario, America will pull the rug from under its support for Israel.
Those observers warn that the president has already traveled some way along this path, possibly too far to change course. They are convinced that the Obama administration and Tehran have already wrapped up their nuclear accord and put it behind them. They are now moving forward with a plan to use the accord as the pivot for a bilateral effort to impose a new order on the Middle East for Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and the Palestinian question.
Riyadh sees deal as recognizing Iranian occupation of region’s lands
This perception of current US policy is shared in most respects by Riyadh.
The influential daily columnist, Tariq Al-Homayed, who is close to the royal court in Riyadh, had this to say:
“What is now clear is that the American president is either striving to attain personal glory, the outcome of which cannot be assessed, or he does not comprehend the implications of his actions. The latter possibility is more likely.
“The truth is that a bad agreement with Iran is a disaster, and constitutes international recognition of Iran’s occupation of the countries of the region and international approval of Iran’s sponsorship of terror. Therefore, the region is facing a real disaster and we do not know how matters will develop by the end of Obama’s presidential term.”
These words turned out to be a portent of the coming Saudi military action in Yemen.
Hundreds of officials own vested interest in US-Israeli ties
The same harsh term “occupation” was hurled against Israel Monday, March 23, by none other than the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in a diatribe against Israel at the annual conference of the Democratic Party’s pro-Israel J Street. He offered the opinion that “an occupation that has lasted more than 50 years must end.”
How did he get that figure? Was it sloppy arithmetic or does that mean that his boss has abandoned his adherence to the pre-1967 war lines as the basis of a peace settlement, and aims to shrink Israel further to the 1947 contours determined by the UN partition agreement 181 of May 1948? Those lines were eradicated by seven Arab nations in all-out war on the fledgling Jewish state, the precursor of many other wars to come for the same goal?
The ranks of government, military and intelligence officials in Washington and Jerusalem, who invested long years and careers in building and nurturing close strategic ties between their countries, find cold comfort in counting the 20 months left of the Obama presidency.
Netanyahu was awarded four years as prime minister in last week’s election, but there is no guarantee he will last the course.
The imponderable future of US-Israeli ties and nuclear Iran breed conflict
Other imponderables are the lengths to which Obama is willing to take his anti-Israel vendetta, the identity of his successor in the White House and that unknown figure’s willingness to repair the damaged relations with Israel.
Two things are beginning to emerge from this sea of uncertainty:
1. The license Obama is offering Iran to reach the nuclear threshold has already sent destabilizing shock waves across the region: The Sunni Arab nations will not give up the race to stay level with a nuclear-armed Iran. Furthermore, Israel may go back to its military option for degrading Iran’s nuclear capabilities when diplomacy falls short of this goal. Netanyahu set that option aside to give Obama the chance to seek a diplomatic solution by means of an understanding with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Military action by Israel would scuttle any accord they reached.
Many US and Israeli military and intelligence experts have pronounced the Israel Defense Forces not up to the task of inflicting major damage on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Netanyahu never subscribed to that view in the past and does not in the present.
2. The volatility of the embattled Middle East, tossed on a sea of hopeless conflicts, creates fertile ground for Sunni-Shiite rivalries to escalate at some point into a nuclear conflict.