How Obama’s kicking Israel on his way out of office
When President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet Wednesday in New York, the usual awkwardness will likely be worse. That’s because Obama has just forced Bibi to agree to cut Congress out of a basic part of US-Israel relations.
It’s a major victory in the president’s fight to structurally weaken the US-Israel alliance. Yes, that’s actually one of Obama’s stated foreign-policy goals: He told Jewish leaders in 2009 that it was time to put “daylight” between the two countries.
Few thought he could get very far, since the US-Israel alliance runs far deeper than just the president-to-premier level. But Obama proved such doubts naïve by targeting those deeper relations — and not just with his recent victory.
Back in 2014, for example, he weakened military-to-military ties during Israel’s war in Gaza. Out of the blue, Obama forced the Pentagon to check with the White House before releasing stocks of US weapons kept in Israel — even though they’re stored there purposely to replenish supplies during war.
Last week’s bilateral foreign-aid agreement, finalized by Obama and Netanyahu, is a bigger step — the grand finale of Obama’s eight-year quest to distance the United States from Israel.
And the backdrop to the Obama-Bibi meeting — the United Nations General Assembly this week — is more than coincidental: It highlights Obama’s implied threat.
First, the aid deal. It’s for $3.8 billion in military aid a year, up from $3.1 billion. But that’s not as large a hike as it seems.
First, as Elliott Abrams points out at The Weekly Standard, “Congress already appropriates hundreds of millions of dollars beyond the base $3.1 billion level for Israel’s missile defense, so the current aid level is actually about $3.5 billion. That means the total increase is roughly $300 million a year.” And, “given inflation in the costs of military items, and the greater threat to Israel due to Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, the net result is at best continuation of the current aid agreement.”
It gets much worse from there. The deal also phases out Israel’s ability to spend about a quarter of the aid on hardware
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