There are times when the perceived security interests of the US and Israel clash. Yet every time that American and Israeli security interests do not coincide, people seem surprised.
In 1984, former New York Times middle east bureau chief and retired head of the New York-based Council of Foreign Relations, Peter Grose, wrote in his award-winning book, ISRAEL IN THE MIND OF AMERICA, that crises in Israel-US elections often occur during the second term of an American president who will not stand for another term.
Truman, in 1949, enforced an arms boycott of Israel, Eisenhower in 1957 forced a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, Nixon in 1973 delayed vital arms to Israel during the Yom Kippur War, and Reagan in 1988 provided official recognition to the PLO, overriding strong objections from then-Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres.
In 1989, I asked a retired official of Reagan’s state department how he could understand the decision of an extremely pro-Israel Reagan administration to cozy up to Arafat and the PLO…As recently as May, 1987, I had covered Reagan’s secretary of State George Schultz declare “HELL NO, PLO” to a cheering convention of AIPAC, the lobby for Israel on capitol hill.
What Reagan’s former senior state department appointee told me was that US policy towards Arafat was based on the premise that Palestinian Arabs in the gulf states must be moved far from the “oil spigot” of the oil-rich Persian gulf, where Palestinians represented a permanent threat to the flow of Arab oil to nations around the globe.
The US “offer” to Arafat to place thousands of Palestinian Arabs on the west bank and Gaza seemed like a perfect solution, Reagan’s aide told me. Indeed, almost a year later, Iraq invaded Kuwait, an event which displaced almost 400,000 Palestinian Arabs and sparked the Madrid peace process that lead to an autonomous Palestinian Arab entity on the west bank and Gaza.
Today, the Clinton Administration goes through the final stages of stabilizing a Palestinian Arab entity on the west bank and Gaza into something that will resemble a Palestinian Arab nation state.Arafat has openly stated that he remains ready and willing to continue to serve American interests throughout the Arab world, thereby driving a wedge between American and Israeli interests. There is no question about it – Israel is interfering with that process.
That is not because Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs do not want peace. It is not because the Israeli Knesset does not favor the concept of “territories for peace”. The Palestine Authority does not offer “peace for territories “.
In violation of the Oslo accords, Yassir Arafat instead promotes daily official Arabic-language broadcasts on Arafat’s official Palestine Broadcasting Corporation that call for full scale war to liberate all of Israel. In violation of the Oslo accords, the PA issue weapons to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, which await for the imminent return of Sheikh Achmed Yassin from Iran. In violation of the Oslo accords, Yassin promises to work within the Palestine Authority to conduct new mass suicide attacks throughout the state of Israel. In violation of the Oslo accords, Arafat and the Palestine Authority have instead adopted the policies of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, the agency that runs the Arab refugee camps. Instead of advocating a Palestinian state in the west bank and Gaza, Arafat and the PA assure the “right of return” for UNRWA’s three million Palestinian Arab refugees to stake claim to the villages that they left in 1948, all of which have been transformed into Israeli cities and collective farms.
Surprisingly, the US government votes each year for renewal of the UNRWA #194 mandate of the “right of return” for all Palestinian Arab refugees to displace the state of Israel.
You might state that the new Palestine Liberation Army represents no real threat to Israel’s overall security.
Yet in violation of the Oslo accords, the PLA has quadrupled its strength to 50,000 troops. In violation of the accords, the PLA has made a formal alliance with Iraq. The question facing Israel remains: What if the PLA were to invite well equipped troops from Iraq, Iran and other nations to help them liberate lands taken in 1948 or to help liberate Jerusalem?
This is where American and Israeli security interests may part. If the PLA organizes terror threats against Israel, the White House does not perceive this as an attack on direct American interests. From the American point of view, Israel can take care of itself.
There’s the rub. Israel and the US maintain different security interests.
The American government wants to tame a potential virulent Palestinian Arab entity, only to ensure that the Palestinian Arabs will not attack American interests.
Israelis maintains its own security interests, and that is why there will be a crisis in American-Israeli relations.