Whenever Israel Independence Day approaches, someone with a historical perspective invariably reminds the people of Israel the American State Department did everything in its power to dissuade Israel from declaring its independence after the British withdrew in May 1948.
After Israel declared independence and in spite of the State Department’s warnings Arab armies would overwhelm it, the U.S. enforced an arms embargo of Israel during its War of Independence.
This week, as Israel enters its 61st anniversary, American directives abound once again.
The text of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony to the Congress from last week was released to the Israeli media yesterday, and it does not sit well with Israel.
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In that testimony, Mrs. Clinton warned Israel it risks losing “Arab support” if itdoes not resume negotiations to launch a Palestinian state.
Mrs. Clinton made this demand, despite the fact that both movements that represent the Palestinians – Fatah and Hamas – remain at war with Israel.
“For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand,” Mrs. Clinton told the House Appropriations Committee.
Concerning a funding request for the Palestinians, Mrs. Clinton said the State Department would ensure that no U.S. taxpayer money goes to Hamas.
“No aid will flow to Hamas or any entity controlled by Hamas,” she said.
Mrs. Clinton said any new Palestinian Authority government that would include Hamas must recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous agreements.
However, Mrs. Clinton contradicted herself and indicated that the U.S. would not necessarily cut funding to the Palestinians even if Hamas were to join a unity government and fail to meet the three of the above conditions, noting that the U.S. continues to provide funds to Lebanon, whose government includes Hezbollah.
“We are doing that because we think, on balance, it is in the interest of the United States,” she said.
The question as to whether American policy plays into the interest of the state and people of Israel remains to be seen.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org