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US-Israel Relations. Impact On Palestine-Israel Case.

The unique relationship between US and Israel, based on a strong cooperative alliance, emerged in 1948 as the administration of US became the first country that recognized Israel as a sovereign nation (Robinson, 2022). Even though the recognition of Israel as a sovereign state with the Jewish government as de jure occurred in the aftermath of WWII, the birth of the relationship dates from 1917 when the US demonstrated wide encouragement and endorsement in the implementation of the Balfour Declaration, which was designed for the purpose of massive resettlement of Jewish population in the territories of Palestine. Shortly, in the aftermath of WWI, the Zionist Organization, besides the approval of the British administration, received impactful support from the American zionists who with wide open arms welcomed the implementation of the Balfour Declaration, a ratified document made up of the scratches of Basel Program of 1897. Ned Lebow highlighted in his article Woodrow Wilson and the Balfour Declaration that the US showed impeccable support for Palestine to be recognized as the home for Jews, and the Jewish settlers to have full “national, political, and civic rights” (Lebow, 1968, p.504). Since then, even though the diplomatic relationship between these two nations went through certain bumps depending on the ruling administration of the countries, in general, the special bond between US and Israel remains inseparable. The bilateral alliance between the two countries indicates not simply a surface cooperation that is a common partnership between the countries as per the international order based on diplomacy and partnership, rather US and Israel's relations are constructed upon a strong commitment in continuously defending each other’s interests on multilayer levels which includes the areas of cooperation, such as economic-financial and military.

One of the non-negligible factors that construct a coalition between the two countries is, first and foremost, the cultural-ideological and religious element which remains the most significant characteristic uniting the administrations of the US and Israel and the population in both regions. This coalition is directed towards the acquisitions of a common goal. Coalition based upon cultural-ideological and religious foundations between two independent states is a core driver that encourages the countries and the majority of population to defend the common belief by forming one major enemy: Muslim population of Palestine and not only of Palestine. However, the purpose of this paper is to examine the economic-financial and military characteristics that joined the US and Israel in a tight partnership. Furthermore, it is to argue how the global superpower’s relationship with Israel indirectly and directly endorses the colonial project of the annexation of the Palestinian territories through massive methods of dispossession of the Palestinian population from their lands.

Figure 1: Arthur Balfour Arthur Balfour, at center, in 1925. (Universal History Archive / Getty, 1925).

The conflictual history of Palestine-Israel relations is complex. It dates back to mid 20th century and continues up to these days. Although the Palestine-Israel case is a topic of an in-depth examination from various perspectives, it is undeniable and irrational to refute the fact that Israel’s politics based upon zionist ideology is driven towards the fulfilment of “settler-colonial ambitions in Palestine” (Dana&Jabrawi, 2017, p.1). The effects on the Palestinian people, as a consequence of Israeli occupational politics, have been destructive. The continuous resistance to the colonial project of the state of Israel Palestinian people have become the only source towards the achievement of liberation and self-determination. Even though the rhetorics of international organizations and states are most often directed toward the criticism of Israel’s illegal actions that greatly undermine the effectiveness of international laws, the repercussions of the rhetorics remain unintelligible.

Israel’s imbrute politics towards the Palestinians is not self-driven. Rather, it is highly endorsed by the US, which serves as a backbone to Israel’s politics based on, as Dana and Jarbawi described in the article A Century of Settler Colonialism in Palestine: Zionism's Entangled Project, colonization and dehumanization (Dana&Jabrawi, 2017). Israel’s strategy of marginalization and cleansing the Palestinian ethnic group from their territories to establish purely a Jewish state was initiated as a result of the 1967 war through the imposition of massive settler policies. Zanotti (2022) in his report underlined that since the 1967 borders, Israel’s policies consist of massive settlements of the Jewish population in Palestine, more precisely in the West Bank. For instance, according to the chart The Growth Of Israeli Settlements, if the Israeli population through the settlement in the 1980s had been less than a hundred thousand, by 2018 it overreached almost 500 thousand (Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 2018). Although these settlements are considered to be illegal these policies violate international laws, and Israel’s stands on continuing the expansionist policies remain fixed and immobile. Even though most international communities publicly condemn Israel’s actions of dispossession through settlement for the reason of these actions are clear violations of various international enactments, the US’s opinion of this matter is the opposite. Despite the fact that the constantly changing administrations of the US acknowledge that Israel’s strong commitment to the construction of new settlements in the Palestinian territories functions as an impediment towards peace, the US avoids strong condemnation of these actions. For instance, during the Bush administration, the president himself noted in a letter to Ariel Sharon, an Israeli Prime Minister, that the final result of the peace negotiations would not anticipate the return to “the armistice lines of 1949” (Zanotti, 2022, p.22). This example demonstrates that the solution that would involve the re-establishment of the Palestinian population in their rightful lands is not an option. In fact, the US is simply abstaining from the Israel-Palestine case, rather it endorses those illegal settlements by contributing to Israel economically, financially and militarily.

Figure 2: The Growth Of Israeli Settlements. (McCarthy/Statista, 2020).

Military assistance is one of the main strategic tools of the foreign policy of the US. In order to establish its influence, as well as boost national security abroad, the US remains one of the major military aiders to certain countries by which in return it anticipates the alignment and conformity to American interests. Patricia Sullivan, a fellow at the University of Carolina, in her article IS Military aid an effective tool for U.S. foreign policy, underlined that according to American political authorities, military distribution becomes a necessity for supporting counties with a cooperative mindset with the American policies, and the military assistance could be eliminated once the receiving governments abandon “American foreign policy positions” (Sullivan, 2012, p.1).

Figure 3: Protests against the US aid to Israel aid. (USATODAY, 2020)

One of the core factors that strengthen the partnership between the US and Israel is military aid. Israel is one of the major cumulative recipients of the US's military support, which further strengthens the position of Israel in the Middle East as well as defends American foreign policy interests in that specific region. According to Jeremy M. Sharp and his extensive report on the congressional research service, the major assistance that the US provides for the Israel that further bolsters their bilateral cooperation is in the form of military aid (Sharp, 2022). It is a well-established fact that the strong cooperative bond in the form of military assistance between the US and Israel grew rapidly after experiencing multiple conflicts known as the Six-Day War that occurred in 1967 and the Yom Kippur Wars that took place in 1973. During these combats, the US established its position as a defender of Israel's colonial-settler policies and, in general, its existence in the lands belonging to Palestinians.

The military endorsement of the US towards Israel is a continuous politics. Up to these days, the US remains the largest seller of different types of weaponry to Israel, and shows its steadfast commitment in supply its closest ally for the purpose of maintaining the Israeli presence in the Middle East. Because of the military business and close partnership, Israel’s arsenal predominantly consists of US’s weaponry. By providing Israel with necessary military equipment including various weapons, US’s indirectly supports the Israeli carried assaults on innocent civilians in Gaza and other territories. Frida Berrigan in her article Made in the U.S.A.: American military Aid to Israel states that through US made weapons, in 2008-2009, Israel carried out intentional attacks on the university buildings, police stations and residential areas which consequently caused the death of “1434 Palestinians…in Gaza” including children (Berrigan, 2009, p.15). By carrying out brutal attacks on the civilians, Israel with the help of US straightens its position in the region by attempting to eliminate the Palestinian ethnos and replace it with the Jewish settlers. US administration, in regards to 2008-2009 attacks, justifies Israel’s atrocities by calling them self-defence against Hamas.

The military support of Israel demonstrates the hypocritical tendencies behind the US policies concerning the adjustment of the situation in the Middle East. In May of 2021, the current president of the US Joe Biden made a public speech from the White House where he acknowledged the hostilities that occurred in the Middle East that led to the death of many civilians including children (Biden, 2021). He, then, underlined that the US is continuously working with international stakeholders in regard to providing "rapid humanitarian assistance” and creating a safe and secure environment for both, Israel and Palestine (Biden, 2021). Even though these words are seen to be reassuring, the rhetoric does not match the actions. Continuous military assistance to Israel is not an indicator of building a peaceful and safe environment because it simply undermines the diplomatic strategy of promoting peace. Rather the continuous weaponry aid to Israel is a sign of unceasing and repeated steps toward the perpetuation of the conflict. William D. Hartung, in his article Promoting Stability or Fueling Conflict? The Impact of U.S. Arms Sales on National and Global Security, underlined that despite the fact that Israel has been carrying out attacks on the Gaza, causing the death of innocent people, the administration of the US continues to unconditionally assist the perpetrator with various types of weapons (Hartung, 2022).

Figure 4: What the U.S. has given Israel, 2009-2017. (State Department, 2017)

Moreover, the Biden administration noted that the adjustment of the situation in the Middle East is one of the priorities of the US’s foreign policy, and it will continue to take necessary steps toward the elimination of the conflict. Cindy May, in her article Opinion – Israel-Palestine Policy Under Biden underlined that the Biden administration indicated that the US will pursue its long-lasting position of “opposing unilateral annexation” of Palestinian territories (May, 2021, p.1). Even with the presidency of Trump, the Trump administration indicated the possible solution in the region by pruning the two-state solution and implementing various peace plans, such as the “Abraham Accords” with other Arab nations. However, regardless of the head of the US, whether a representative of the Republican or Democrat parties, the US remains the major military contributor to Israel. As a result of the 2016 arms deal, the US will remain the major military assistance with 37$ billion in US aid for 10 years (Hartung, 2022). Although the US administration demonstrates its compassion towards the Palestine-Israel case, the reality is the opposite.

The continuous military assistance to Israel is an indicator of the US’s support for the colonial expansionist policies of the country. The rhetoric addressed towards the establishment of peace in the region just remains as rhetoric. Israel continues to cause the death of thousands of people justifying the usage of weaponry in the battle the terrorist groups, such as Hamas. However, in reality, the effects of weaponry assistance to Israel are reflected in the death of thousands of innocent lives. The continuous military support is an indicator of the fact that the US adminstration is unwilling to take steps toward the creation of peace. Rather, it demonstrates that from year to year, with the US’s assistance, Israel is closer to an ultimate goal: the elimination of the Palestinian population from the region.

Figure 5: A Palestinian flag flies at the ruins of houses, destroyed by Israeli air strikes during Israeli-Palestinian fighting. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters, 2022).

The economic cooperation between US and Israel demonstrates the special relationship that these countries have. The liberalization of trade as well as the implementation of various economic agreements between these two states, is not simply a bilateral partnership driven toward the stabilization of the national economy. Rather, this special relationship demonstrates the fact that the US, as a leading promoter of democracy, peace and human rights, highly neglects the atrocities of the Israeli actions and pursues economic trading for the sake of profit accumulation. Moreover, the bilateral economic partnership between these two countries clearly highlights that the US remains a strong ally to Israel and is determined in preserving its own and Israel's presence in the region. Despite the Israeli colonial expansionist policies and their destructiveness addressed towards the Palestinian people, the US continues to preserve the economic cooperation which highly benefits the Israeli establishment in Palestine.

The strong alliance between US and Israel dates back to 1975 with the adoption of the Free Trade Agreement that in its essence eliminated “all customs duties between the two trading partners” (Zanotti, 2022, p.10). The trade between these two countries is largely concentrated in the technological sector, which includes computer design and various types of manufacturing. Up to the contemporary period, close economic ties between US and Israel continue to flourish, and Israel remains the largest single-country trading partner.

Figure 6: 1985 Free Trade Agreement agreement between USA and Israel. (AIPAC, 2020).

Besides the direct trading system, US’s financial contribution to Israel’s economy functions through loans and grants. For instance, according to Jeremy Sharp and his report on the congressional research centre, in 1992 and 1993, the US approved the contribution of a 2$ billion loan to the Israeli administration followed by 1% billion in bonds (Sharp, 2007). Although the US’s investments in Israel had gone through bumpy roads, the final outcome revolved around the fact that Israel has been the beneficiary of huge amounts of loans and bonds. The continuous endorsement of Israel through the money investments counting the fact the Palestinians have become the subject of deprivation suggests that the US’s support for the colonial expansionist policies of Israel prevails over its commitment to the promotion of human rights, democracy and justice. With vast financial support, the US secures the existence of Israel in the occupied lands of Palestinians. This has been a clear issue as between 1973 and 1991, the US has contributed to Israel approximately 460 million dollars for “resettling Jewish refugees in Israel” (Sharp, 2007, p.7). The financial support is a continues matter.

The negligence of Israel’s atrocities in Palestine is clearly seen through the developing economic and financial transactions occurring between the US and Israel. The US’s economic policies as well carry hypocritical tendencies. In response to the conflict happening between Russia and Ukraine, the US along with other European allies had shown strong support towards Ukraine by publicly criticizing Russia’s actions. The criticism; however, is not simply an issue of rhetoric. The US, as the major economic power, imposed various sanctions on Russia in response to its politics toward Ukraine. The imposed sanctions, as Rebecca M. Nelson a Specialist in International Trade and Finance notices, are directed towards tackling various sectors of Russia’s economy including financial and energy sectors and especially trading (Nelson, 2022). If the sanctions of the US towards Russia are justified because of Russia’s occupation of a sovereign country, should not Israel experience the same fate as Russia? However, this is not the case. Israeli occupational policies are not simply highly ignored, rather, they are endorsed by the US who claims to be a promoter of justice, equality and democracy.

Figure 7: U.S. and Israeli officials sign a military-spending deal in Washington, D.C., on September 14. (Gary Cameron / Reuters, 2016).

US-Israel relations are unique. To be more precise, they are more alarming than special. The close alliance of the US with Israel demonstrates the US’s not simply negligence of the Israeli atrocities directed towards the Palestinian people, rather it explicitly shows that US’s involvement in the Palestine-Israel case is a one-side friendship. US’s economic-financial and military support of Israel is an alarming issue to the International community because it highlights that a powerful country that is constantly promoting peace, equality and justice, in reality, is the initiator of oppressiveness, disharmony and absolute wrongfulness. The fact that the international community has no capability of holding Israel accountable for its destructive actions, confirms that the US withholds the power over the international laws and regulations imposed by the UN and other conventions. Justice in the contemporary world is what is promoted by the US even though its justice is far from the true meaning of it. Peace, equality and justice are how US politics view it. Palestine is a special case that demonstrates how the contemporary world order is constructed. What solution does Palestine have in a lifelong fight against the one who has taken under his control the terms, such as peace and justice?

Bibliographical References

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Author Photo

Kanan Babazade