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
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Duterte Aligns Philippines With China, Says
U.S. Has Lost
October 20, 2016 "Information
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
announced his "separation" from the United
States on Thursday, declaring he had
realigned with China as the two agreed to
resolve their South China Sea dispute
Duterte made his comments in Beijing, where
he is visiting with at least 200 business
people to pave the way for what he calls a
new commercial alliance as relations with
longtime ally Washington deteriorate.
this venue, your honors, in this venue, I
announce my separation from the United
States," Duterte told Chinese and Philippine
business people, to applause, at a forum in
the Great Hall of the People attended by
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
"Both in military, not maybe social, but
economics also. America has lost."
Duterte's efforts to engage China, months
after a tribunal in the Hague ruled that
Beijing did not have historic rights to the
South China Sea in a case brought by the
previous administration in Manila, marks a
reversal in foreign policy since the
71-year-old former mayor took office on June
trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, said $13.5
billion in deals would be signed during the
"I've realigned myself in your ideological
flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to
talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell
him that there are three of us against the
world - China, Philippines and Russia. It's
the only way," Duterte told his Beijing
Duterte's remarks will prompt fresh concern
in the United States, where the Obama
administration has seen Manila as a key ally
in its "rebalance" of resources to Asia in
the face of a rising China.
administration agreed a deal with Duterte's
predecessor granting U.S. forces rotational
access to bases in the Philippines and
further doubts will be raised about the
future of this arrangement.
However, a White House spokesman stressed
the traditional bonds between Washington and
Manila when asked about Duterte's comments
and stuck to a U.S. approach of seeking to
play down the Philippine leader's repeated
"The U.S.-Philippines alliance is built on a
70-year history, rich people-to-people ties,
including a vibrant Filipino-American
diaspora, and a long list of shared security
interests," spokesman Ned Price said.
also remain one of the Philippines'
strongest economic partners; the current
stock of U.S. foreign direct investment
stands above $4.7 billion."
few hours after Duterte's speech, his top
economic policymakers released a statement
saying that, while Asian economic
integration was "long overdue", that did not
mean the Philippines was turning its back on
will maintain relations with the West but we
desire stronger integration with our
neighbors," said Finance Secretary Carlos
Dominguez and Economic Planning Secretary
Ernesto Pernia in a joint statement. "We
share the culture and a better understanding
with our region."
China has pulled out all the stops to
welcome Duterte, including a marching band
complete with baton-twirling band master at
his official greeting ceremony outside the
Great Hall of the People, which is not
extended to most leaders.
President Xi Jinping, meeting Duterte
earlier in the day, called the visit a
"milestone" in ties.
told Duterte that China and the Philippines
were brothers and they could "appropriately
handle disputes", though he did not mention
the South China Sea in remarks made in front
hope we can follow the wishes of the people
and use this visit as an opportunity to push
China-Philippines relations back on a
friendly footing and fully improve things,"
Following their meeting, during which
Duterte said relations with China had
entered a new "springtime", Chinese Vice
Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the South
China Sea issue was not the sum total of
"The two sides agreed that they will do what
they agreed five years ago, that is to
pursue bilateral dialogue and consultation
in seeking a proper settlement of the South
China Sea issue," Liu said.
China claims most of the energy-rich South
China Sea through which about $5 trillion in
ship-borne trade passes every year.
Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
2012, China seized the disputed Scarborough
Shoal and denied Philippine fishermen access
to its fishing grounds.
said the shoal was not mentioned and he did
not answer a question about whether
Philippine fishermen would be allowed there.
He said both countries had agreed on
coastguard and fisheries cooperation, but
did not give details.
ROW TAKES "BACK SEAT"
Duterte's tone toward Beijing is in stark
contrast to the language he has used against
the United States, after being infuriated by
U.S. criticism of his bloody war on drugs.
has called U.S. President Barack Obama a
"son of a bitch" and told his to "go to
hell", while alluding to severing ties with
the old colonial power.
Wednesday, to the cheers of hundreds of
Filipinos in Beijing, Duterte said
Philippine foreign policy was veering toward
will not go to America anymore. We will just
be insulted there," Duterte said. "So time
to say goodbye my friend."
same day, about 1,000 anti-U.S. protesters
gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Manila
calling for the removal of U.S. troops from
the southern island of Mindanao.
Duterte's abrupt pivot from Washington to
Beijing is unlikely to be universally
popular at home, however. On Tuesday an
opinion poll showed Filipinos still trust
the United States far more than China.
Duterte on Wednesday said the South China
Sea arbitration case would "take the back
seat" during talks, and that he would wait
for the Chinese to bring up the issue rather
than doing so himself.
said issues that could not be immediately be
resolved should be set aside, according to
the Chinese foreign ministry.
China has welcomed the Philippines
approaches, even as Duterte has vowed not to
surrender any sovereignty to Beijing, which
views the South China Sea Hague ruling as
null and void.
China has also expressed support for his
drug war, which has raised concern in
Western capitals about extrajudicial
(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and
David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by
Michael Martina and Ryan Woo; Editing by
Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)