Israel debates in Washington heat up

Israel debates in Washington heat up

Abdullah Muradoglu

US President Donald Trump expects Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come out victorious and form a government. In the meantime Netanyahu added more Palestinian territories to his annexation map.

Trump is on the other hand strengthening Netanyahu’s hand by fueling tensions between Iran and the US and declaring that a mutual defense treaty is going to be signed with Israel. The possibility that Trump could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly at the end of this month has Netanyahu shaking in his boots.

The fact that Trump is targeting Iran, without giving any names, after two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities were attacked last week by Houthi forces shows that his efforts are meant to soothe Israel. Trump announced that they are ready to respond to the attack, that they know who is responsible but that they are waiting for a clear statement from Saudi Arabia.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for his part, has openly claimed that Iran is responsible for the attack. Trump surprised everyone once again by falsifying the reports that he would meet with Rouhani without preconditions. He had also fired National Security Advisor and pro-Israel hawk John Bolton last week. Bolton seriously opposed Trump sitting at the negotiating table with Iran.

One day before Bolton got the boot, the White House discussed mitigating sanctions on Iran.  Bolton also objected to Secretary of State Steven Mnuchin who supported easing tensions so Iran could come to the table. Apart from Bolton, there are of course Republican hawks and pro-Israeli Neocons who want to block a meeting with Rouhani and all negotiations with Iran which they define as “Obama’s way.”

Netanyahu is not getting involved in these discussions because this is a period where he needs Trump’s support most. Netanyahu is trying to impact the votes by saying that they are expecting Trump to announce the Israel- Palestine peace plan within a few days. Attending an event organized by the pro-Israeli European Leaders’ Network (ELNET), Trump’s Special Representative for the Middle East Jason Greenblatt stated that there wasn’t a decision to announce the plan after the elections.

He said that the declaration of the so-called peace plan may even be after Netanyahu forms a government. Greenblatt, who is known for being pro-annexation, resigned from his position as Special Representative on Sept.5. He also said that he could remain at the White House if the so-called peace plan were to be announced soon. Furthermore, he added that his tenure may be extended depending on the course of the plan. Another debate that is heating up in Washington are the serious claims that Israel has been tapping the White House.

The Netanyahu government is, as always, denying the reports which cite US intelligence sources. Trump, for his part, is glossing over the development by saying he doesn’t believe Israel did this. On the other hand, Washington does not welcome any Israel that gravitates toward investments in China as the US-China trade wars are ongoing.

The Trump administration wants Israel to give up on all investment in China. However the steps the US will take to convince Israel not to invest in China are unclear. Whereas the US.’s Middle East policy is set according to Israel’s interests. Every year the US provides Israel with $4 billion in military aid. The US Senate, with a bipartisan agreement, even approved a 38-billion-dollar aid package to Israel spanning the next 10 years. In the meantime, it would do well to note that while Congress is considering sanctions against Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S-400s, it chooses to remain silent about Israel’s ties with China.

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