The American Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, will arrive in Israel next week, a few days after the visit of the National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan. This sequence of visits is not accidental: it reflects a deep concern in Washington about the emerging policies of the new government.
The American Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, will arrive in Israel next week, a few days after the visit of the National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan.
This sequence of visits is not accidental: it reflects a deep concern in Washington about the emerging policies of the new government.
In the past, the Americans worried about the possibility that Israel would go crazy in the Iranian context, or in the Palestinian issue, which would lead to arson in the territories and in the Arab world.
Both of these matters came up in Sullivan's meetings and will come up in Blinken's as well, but contrary to the expected messages of the speakers, they are not the main thing.
Israel is not going to attack Iran in the foreseeable future, nor is it going to proactively collapse the Palestinian Authority or change the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Even open relations with Saudi Arabia are currently a distant dream.
Washington knows all this very well, and is troubled by the fact that they are losing Israel as a partner that shares the same values with them, or more precisely: that Israel is losing itself.
This partnership is based on shared values, which produce a wide range of shared interests.
Two democratic countries striving for peace, equality and human rights, which are forced to fight for their principles at the basis of their existence.
This allowed for a true strategic alliance (not a defense alliance; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo writes in his new book that Benjamin Netanyahu lied on the eve of the third election when he claimed that the issue was on the table), which gave Israel the opportunity to become a regional power.
On the threshold of the security partnership
In the annual report it published last week, the Institute for National Security Studies warns against possible damage to the special relationship with the United States and its Jewish communities.
He attributes this to several reasons: the growing radicalism in the Democratic Party, the deepening alienation towards the elites of which the Jews are seen as a part, the reduction of American involvement in the Middle East, and the inherent conflict between a conservative government in Israel and a liberal government in Washington.
The institute's researchers warn that "these processes threaten to erode the traditional US support for Israel on all levels - security, political and economic - as well as severely damage Israel's international and regional standing, its economic stability and its ability to deal with the main threats to it, chiefly Iran."
Israel erred when, during the Trump era, it abandoned its traditional position and chose exclusively the conservative side.
It can be assumed that the cold shoulder of the Biden administration partly stems from there, along with a lack of trust in Netanyahu and his government
As expected, there were those on the right who attacked the institute and its researchers, claiming that their assessments are influenced by the fact that the institute is financed with foreign money.
This is an outrageous claim, based on the assertion that experienced and respected professionals are willing to bend their opinions in the name of money, but in the case of the INSS it is also a false claim: the institute is financed mainly from the pocket of Frank Levi, a Holocaust survivor who was born in Czechoslovakia named Pinchas Levi and survived the war in the ghetto of Budapest, immigrated to Israel and fought in the War of Independence in the Golani Brigade, went down to Australia and established a thriving chain of shopping centers there, and immigrated to Israel again a few years ago to end his life here.
The Institute is not the only one to put a warning light on what is happening in Washington.
It was preceded by the Intelligence Division of the IDF, which in its annual assessment - which was revealed last month in "Israel Hayom" - referred to the USA for the first time.
The AMN is indeed prevented from dealing with the blue, Israeli side, and therefore did not touch the consequences of the Israeli actions on the American decisions, but the very precedent dealing with the Americans shows that the relations with them require, at the very least, higher attention and maintenance than before.
Israel erred when, during the time of President Trump, it abandoned its traditional position of leaning politically on both parties, the Republican and the Democratic, and chose exclusively the conservative side.
It can be assumed that the cold shoulder of the Biden administration partly stems from there, along with a lack of trust in Netanyahu and his government.
However, until now the administration has tried to separate the attitude towards Israel from the attitude towards the Israeli government.
While the second aspect cooled and heated up according to the identity of the interests between the administrations, the first was always kept at a high temperature - even when sparks flew between Jerusalem and Washington, especially in the publicized confrontations between Netanyahu and President Obama.
The security system deepened and established these relations.
This week, for example, the largest ever exercise between the countries was held - a continuation of a series of open and discreet exercises, endless visits and intense intelligence exchanges on every possible issue - which in part also enabled operations and saved lives.
This partnership also laid solid foundations for the regional agreements that were signed (and partnerships that remained in the shadows), with the understanding that when it comes to values and principles, Israel and the US are the same.
The special relationship has not been damaged for now, but one would have to be naive or irresponsible not to understand that the visits of American officials here are a yellow card.
From Washington's point of view, a violation of Israel's democratic foundations - the judicial system, the principles of equality and individual freedom, even the separation of the Civil Administration from the IDF, which means a different law for Israelis and Palestinians who live on the eastern side of the Green Line - is a direct violation of American interests, the implications of which could be a violation of the deep alliance with Israel .
Zohar Pelati, who previously served as the head of the Mossad's intelligence directorate and in his last position was the head of the political-security staff at the Ministry of Defense, said this week that it is worthwhile to listen to what the Americans say, because of the strategic importance of the US to Israel's security and existence. He warned that the deepening of the distance between the countries would lead to for harming broad support for Israel, and set the threshold of 400 members of Congress as a measure of the depth of American support for Israel. "If we fall below this threshold," he said at a conference of the IAC organization held in Austin, "we will be in serious trouble."
Between Dimona and Washington
Recently, ideas have come up in all kinds of right-wing forums to replace the strategic alliance with the Americans with a new alliance with another partner.
Even names came up (France in the lead), with apparent logic that would allow this.
This is a dangerous hallucination;
Israel does not have and will not have a partner in the strength and depth of the US - in the security, political, economic sense. Such an idea endangers the security of the country and its economy. If Washington believes that these are serious ideas, or those that permeate the government, they may react with dangerous reactions.
As mentioned, Israel is a regional power, but it was built to be so with the help of friends, mainly in Washington.
It needs them even now: money, weapons, fingers in the UN, investments and contracts. Without them it would be much weaker, and above all it would be perceived as such. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Emirates share common regional interests with Israel, but even before that they see it as a key to the heart (and pocket) of The administration in Washington. If Israel stops being like that in their eyes, they will look for other channels of influence, and by implication will distance themselves from it.
If one has to distill the reason why hundreds of millions of Arabs in the region do not attack Israel, it is rooted in two main legs: Washington and Dimona.
A strong nuclear deterrent, and alongside it the knowledge that behind several million Israelis stands the strongest power in the world, with more than 300 million Americans ready at any time to defend it.
The Israeli government is entitled to implement the policies for which it was elected, but it does not have a mandate to shatter the foundations on which the state is founded.
By coming to do so, it endangers not only the democratic foundations, but also the partnerships that allow Israel to be a prosperous villa in the jungle, and by implication - its existence.
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