Obama Pro-Israel Policy Hits U.S. Taxpayers’ Pockets and They Like It

While on his recent visit to Israel, President Barack Obama doubled down on U.S. military aid with a new agreement to extend the aid through 2027. A total of $40 billion would be added to Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant assistance. The increased aid would kick in at the conclusion of the current 10-year, $30 billion agreement signed in 2007; also, the agreement would increase grant aid from the current $3.1 billion a year to nearly $4 billion a year. Furthermore, Obama will not allow sequestration to interrupt the $200 million in FY 2013 funding for Israel’s Iron Dome active defense system. Another $600 million will be spent on it in the next two years. 

Instead of allowing a new president to decide if the United States should increase the very substantial level of its military assistance to Israel, he is pre-empting that decision well before the 2017 ending date of the current agreement.

President Obama’s visit to Israel did nothing to slow the pace of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He had foreshadowed his virtual abandonment of his early pledge in office to significantly reduce Israeli settlement building, by the absence of U.S. representatives from the UN Human Rights Council debate, which described the settlements as a form of “creeping annexation.” Analyst Daniel Levy had described the Obama visit as “coming first and foremost to make a statement about the US-Israel bond, not the illegal settlements.” [1] 

Obama’s stance on Israel is popular with the U.S. citizenry and there is no determined opposition  to the financial largesse to our Middle East ally. Most Americans support Israel over the Palestinians — 50 percent to 9 percent — and 70 percent believe that the two sides should settle their dispute. 53 percent of Israelis believe that Obama will not protect Israeli interests and 80 percent believe he will not bring progress with the Palestinians. [2]

Palestinians held anti-Obama demonstrations during his visit, as they are on to how widely Obama’s rhetoric differs from his actions. They know that Obama will not change the condition whereby Jewish settlers are allowed to build with official state backing and Palestinians cannot build on territory that much of the world believes to be theirs.

Chances of a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not likely to get better soon, as among the first actions of the new settler-friendly cabinet was to announce a “basic law” to change the state’s official designation to emphasize the “Jewish” aspects and trump the “democratic” aspects. The Haaretz newspaper in Israel called the action “insane.”

Finally, besides upping the ante of financial aid to Israel by $10 billion plus and easing the pressure on Israel to stop settlement building outside its borders, President Barack Obama once again endorsed Israel’s right to act unilaterally to pre-empt the nuclear threat from Iran: “Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military activity.”

                                                     Footnotes

[1] Jonathan Cook, “Obama comes to bless Israel’s government of settlers,”  March 20, 2013.

[2] Ibid.

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