The state of Israel was established in 1948. From then until now the United States has supported the nation in a virtually unconditional manner. Palestinian complaints about Israel’s continual annexation of land in the West Bank and Gaza strip fell on deaf ears in our nation. The European Union, the Arab nation, and countries around the world have given their support for the recognition of Palestinian Statehood. The only two serious detractors to the proposition are Israel and the United States. While our government continues to support Israel’s position, it is losing support from many of our nation’s people.
President Obama is the first President to openly criticize certain actions by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The President has also received negative comments from the Netanyahu Administration. Although he received support from Israel throughout his election campaigns, tension between the two nation’s leaders is apparent.
The two primary areas of contention are non-negotiable for Israel. The Obama Administration considers Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as Israel’s best opportunity to negotiate a lasting peace in the area. Israel considers him an enemy of the Jewish State. When the President began discussions with the leadership of Iran regarding its nuclear program, Israel disclosed its displeasure that the United States was in negotiations with one of its enemies.
The Israeli government has demonstrated an attitude of arrogance and belittlement towards Palestine. The Netanyahu Administration has criticized efforts by Abbas to align Palestine with other nations. Fifteen treaties have been signed with other nations, increasing Palestine’s credibility in its quest for statehood. Recently all 20 Arab nations have given their support to the Palestinian effort.
An increasing number of nations have agreed that peace in the area can only be accomplished through a two-state solution. Many of these countries believe that Israel should retreat from land they have occupied since the 1967 war. Israel continues to increase its settlements in the area, as criticism from other nations escalates.
Retired government officials and Generals who fought in past wars have suggested that Netanyahu cease his land-grabbing efforts. They stated that they did not want to see their grandsons and granddaughters involved in another war.
Israeli officials speak in dismissive terms when referring to Abbas and the Palestinian people. Claims have recently been made that without Israeli cooperation Palestine and Hamas would not exist. Statements by others suggest that Palestine only exists at the ‘pleasure’ of Israel. They claim that the failure of peace talks is the fault of Palestinian leadership.
The Obama Administration claims that the relationship between Israel and the United States is as strong as ever. The goal remains the peaceful existence between Israel and Palestine. The major issue of criticism aimed at Netanyahu is the growing number of settlements.
Last Friday a United States delegation was investigating a complaint by Palestine that new Israeli settlements in the West Bank damaged agricultural property. They were attacked by Israeli settlers who pelted them with rocks. The attitude of settlers continues to contend that other nations have no right to interfere in the decisions and actions of the Israeli people.
The action under investigation was the uprooting of olive trees to create a new settlement area. When the small convoy of United States officials, the owner of the land where the olive trees stood, and security personnel arrived at the site of the alleged agricultural damage, the cars were attacked by young members of the settlement with clubs and axes. Security personnel did not respond.
This and other actions and verbal arguments have resulted in increased tensions between the two nations. It is unclear what responses will occur from both sides, but close ties between Israel and the United States will remain strong. They need each other; Israel relies on military and financial support from the United States; the United States needs an ally in the region.
By James Turnage