The announcement last week by the United
States of the largest military aid
package in its history – to Israel – was
a win for both sides.
minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast
that his lobbying had boosted aid from
$3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per
cent increase – for a decade starting in
Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a
rebuff to those who accuse him of
jeopardising Israeli security interests
with his government’s repeated affronts
to the White House.
In the past weeks alone, defence
minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared
last year’s nuclear deal between
Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich
pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr
Netanyahu has implied that US opposition
to settlement expansion is the same as
support for the “ethnic cleansing” of
American president Barack Obama,
meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own
critics who insinuate that he is
anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a
fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the
Democratic party’s candidate to succeed
Mr Obama in November’s election.
In reality, however, the Obama
administration has quietly punished Mr
Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli
expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal
were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu
stalled negotiations last year as he
sought to recruit Congress to his battle
against the Iran deal.
In fact, Israel already receives
roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s
assistance on developing missile defence
programmes is factored in. Notably,
Israel has been forced to promise not to
approach Congress for extra funds.
The deal takes into account neither
inflation nor the dollar’s depreciation
against the shekel.
A bigger blow still is the White
House’s demand to phase out a special
exemption that allowed Israel to spend
nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on
weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will
soon have to buy all its armaments from
the US, ending what amounted to a
subsidy to its own arms industry.
Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed
military largesse – in the face of
almost continual insults – inevitably
fuels claims that the Israeli tail is
wagging the US dog. Even The New York
Times has described the aid package as
Since the 1973 war, Israel has
received at least $100bn in military
aid, with more assistance hidden from
view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid
half of Israel’s military budget. Today
it still foots a fifth of the bill,
despite Israel’s economic success.
But the US expects a return on its
massive investment. As the late Israeli
politician-general Ariel Sharon once
observed, Israel has been a US
“aircraft carrier” in the Middle East,
acting as the regional bully and
carrying out operations that benefit
Almost no one blames the US for
Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq’s
and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A
nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria would have
deterred later US-backed moves at regime
overthrow, as well as countering the
strategic advantage Israel derives from
its own nuclear arsenal.
In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored
military prowess is a triple boon to the
US weapons industry, the country’s most
powerful lobby. Public funds are
siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies
from American arms makers. That, in
turn, serves as a shop window for other
customers and spurs an endless and
lucrative game of catch-up in the rest
of the Middle East.
The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive
in Israel in December – their various
components produced in 46 US states –
will increase the clamour for the
Israel is also a “front-line
laboratory”, as former Israeli army
negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the
weekend, that develops and field-tests
new technology Washington can later use
The US is planning to buy back the
missile interception system Iron Dome –
which neutralises battlefield threats of
retaliation – it largely paid for.
Israel works closely too with the US in
developing cyberwarfare, such as the
Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s
civilian nuclear programme.
But the clearest message from
Israel’s new aid package is one
delivered to the Palestinians:
Washington sees no pressing strategic
interest in ending the occupation. It
stood up to Mr Netanyahu over the Iran
deal but will not risk a damaging clash
over Palestinian statehood.
Some believe that Mr Obama signed the
aid package to win the credibility
necessary to overcome his domestic
Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the
hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly
before he leaves office, that corners Mr
Netanyahu into making peace.
Hopes have been raised by an expected
meeting at the United Nations in New
York on Wednesday. But their first talks
in 10 months are planned only to
demonstrate unity to confound critics of
the aid deal.
If Mr Obama really wanted to pressure
Mr Netanyahu, he would have used the aid
agreement as leverage. Now Mr Netanyahu
need not fear US financial retaliation,
even as he intensifies effective
annexation of the West Bank.
Mr Netanyahu has drawn the right
lesson from the aid deal – he can act
against the Palestinians with continuing
- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2016-09-19/palestinians-lose-in-us-military-aid-deal-with-israel/#sthash.fL4Eq28N.dpuf
Stop All Intervention in Syria and Let the
People Decide Their Future
By Lindsey German
October 15, 2016 "Information
hard to listen to parliamentary debates on
foreign policy without a growing sense of
saw one again this week, this time over the
horrific situation in Aleppo. Most
politicians suffer a kind of selective
amnesia over past interventions. They bemoan
the fact that David Cameron lost the vote to
bomb Syria back in 2013, and claim that
things would be better there now had MPs
voted to intervene.
they ignore the record of such interventions
and the scathing criticisms of them from
official bodies, including their own
parliamentary select committees.
Three separate reports in the past three
months have made clear that those
interventions did more harm than good, that
they have worsened the situation where they
took place, and that two of the previous
three British prime ministers – Tony Blair
and David Cameron - were very much
criticised for their role in the campaigning
Chilcot report over Iraq was the most
scathing, but less reported was the
foreign affairs committee report on the
bombing of Libya in 2011, which started as
the imposition of a no-fly zone but rapidly
became a war for regime change, with 30,000
killed by bombing and a civil war still
decision to intervene in Syria last December
has also faced criticism, this time by the
defence select committee.
Pass the blame
Little of this is referred to in the
debates. Instead when your interventions
over the past 15 years have failed, what do
you do? Well, blame the organisation which
opposed them in the first place.
Stop the War is berated for not marching.
Ann Clwyd MP, a hawk back in 2003, is
demanding that two million demonstrate
outside the Russian embassy – even though
she bitterly opposed those who did
march then. Some even claim that Stop the
War is culpable over Syria, even though it
opposes all bombing and wants peace.
should not need to be said that Stop the War
is not bombing or intervening in the war, it
is an anti-war organisation.
does the organisation come under such
attack? Because Stop the War has called it
right over these wars, and is calling it
right over Syria.
No one can fail to be moved
by the endless war into which the people of
Syria are now plunged. But
it is precisely
because we value human life that we oppose
military intervention there. A no-fly zone
will escalate the war, not end it, and there
will be more civilian casualties not less,
just as there were in Libya.
Syria's future for
Syrians alone to decide
did not stop the war in Iraq, but we have
helped to shift opinion in this country
against further wars. It could be argued
that Chilcot would never have happened
without an anti-war movement. Jeremy
Corbyn’s two victories as Labour leader also
are in part the result of a strong anti-war
and peace movement.
Stop the War's position is
clear: we oppose all bombing in Syria,
including by the Syrian regime and Russia,
but also by the US, UK, Saudi
other powers intervening there. We call for
an end to
outside intervention. All
supply of arms should stop.
do not take a position on the internal
politics of Syria, and believe that this is
a question for the Syrian people alone.
attacks on us come in the main from people
who do not like our opposition to wars. In
every instance, we have been accused of
supporting those whom our government
opposes. So we have been accused of
supporting the Taliban, Saddam Hussein,
Gaddafi and now Assad and, more
the record, we do not support Russia or any
other intervening power. And we regard these
attacks on us as the sort of witch hunt that
tries to destroy a legitimate criticism of
government by saying that we are allied to a
foreign power. It is despicable and untrue,
and a smokescreen to hide the myriad
failings of this 15-year war on terror.
Time to change course
danger in the Middle East is that we are now
seeing great power rivalry played out in the
region, especially in Syria and Iraq. This
is already causing untold misery for the
people of those countries, the growth of
terrorism and an instability which can spill
into a much bigger regional war.
Those like Jeremy Corbyn who have taken a
strong stance against successive
governments’ wars should be congratulated,
not attacked. Those who backed military
intervention refuse to honestly account for
their actions. Their policies were defeated
in parliament three years ago when nearly
every Labour MP voted against bombing Syria.
Last year a much bigger minority of Labour
MPs voted to bomb not Assad, but the Islamic
State (IS) group. The British role in this
subsequently has been marginal, and now all
the talk is about Assad, not IS.
live in a very dangerous world. The US
presidential election will almost certainly
be followed by more calls for military
intervention, not less. The attacks on Stop
the War cannot be seen in isolation from
wider politics, both in the US and here,
where Jeremy Corbyn is putting forward a
genuinely different foreign policy based on
peace not war.
This is not the time for more intervention.
It is the time for a recognition of
government failures and a commitment to
Unfortunately, with a foreign secretary like
Boris Johnson, the Stop the War Coalition
will be around for some time to come.
- Lindsey German is
convenor of the Stop the War Coalition and
co-author of A People's History of London