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Charles Laffiteau`s Bigger Picture

Last update - Thursday, April 8, 2010, 13:06 By Charles Laffiteau

Spring may be finally here, but as far as America’s relationship with Israel is concerned, it appears that the cold winds of winter have just begun to blow in

Spring may be finally here, but as far as America’s relationship with Israel is concerned, it appears that the cold winds of winter have just begun to blow in
The timing of Israel’s decision to move ahead with the construction of a new ultra-orthodox Jewish settlement in the Palestinian enclave of East Jerusalem could not have been more embarrassing for the United States, as it was made in the middle of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel – a visit intended to salve relations with Israel that have been frayed ever since Obama took office.
As such, the Obama administration saw it as a slap in the face, despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims of ignorance.
Vice President Biden angrily denounced the decision on Israeli soil, and the US State Department quickly followed up with an unusually frank description of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s subsequent dressing-down of Netanyahu by phone.
Clinton reportedly demanded that Israel take unspecified steps that would demonstrate it was seriously interested in trying to negotiate a Middle East peace agreement. It also emerged that Clinton had discussed her phone call and the language she would use with President Obama beforehand.
Relations between the United States and Israel are now at the lowest point that I can ever recall. At the very least, they are as bad as they were twenty years ago when the first President Bush expressed his frustration with Israel’s determination to build additional new Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.
But never before has any previous American leader ever followed up their angry words with decisive actions. And alas, despite his determined steps to show he means business, I have a feeling that President Obama will not be the first.
Ever since the end of the first Arab-Israeli War in 1949, America has steadfastly stood by Israel and acted as a guarantor of her national security. On the diplomatic front, the US has repeatedly vetoed or blocked any UN Security Council resolutions that condemned Israeli military incursions into Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, or Israel’s refusal to give up most of that territory that it captured and has occupied since the 1967 Six Day War, or any resolutions calling for economic or military sanctions. As a result, the UN General Assembly has passed five separate resolutions declaring that Israel’s strategic relationship with the United States encourages her to pursue aggressive expansionist policies.
But America’s long history of blanket  – or maybe I should say ‘blank check’ – diplomacy regarding Israel extends far beyond the halls of the United Nations. When Ireland first proposed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty back in 1961, Israel was already working on developing a nuclear weapon while the United States quietly looked the other way. So it came as no surprise when Israel was the only American military ally, and the only developed country in the world, that refused to sign the treaty in 1970.
Although Israel has never acknowledged this, the fact that it does possess nuclear weapons is one of the worst kept secrets on the world. However I should note that Israel has also reportedly pledged that if the United States will guarantee its security, it will never be the first country to use them. This explains why the US acted so quickly to re-supply Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
However, America’s moral and diplomatic support of Israel pales in comparison to its monetary support. I’ll discuss that next time.

Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas who is pursuing a PhD in International Relations and lectures on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU

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