Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly reiterated his rejection of the existence of “Palestinian sovereignty” on Thursday. But the United States, a key supporter of Israel in the operation against Hamas, continues to present the creation of a Palestinian state as a condition for “real security.” To what extent can the Jewish state ignore the wishes of its historic ally? Decryption.
“Know how to say no”. This mantra of personal development has just found an unusual echo: “An Israeli prime minister should be able to say no, even to our best friends,” Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Thursday, January 18, addressing the United States States without naming them.
At the heart of the differences is the creation of a Palestinian state. “Without this, it will be impossible to achieve real security,” Antony Blinken, the head of American diplomacy, reiterated on Wednesday, January 17, at the Davos Economic Forum.
For the American police officer, the return of some form of “security” to the Middle East is a question of credibility: the war between Israel and Hamas is raising fears of an increasingly tangible regional conflagration.
Joe Biden still believes in the prospect and possibility of a “Palestinian state,” a White House spokesman reported on Friday after a thirty-minute conversation between the American president and Benjamin Netanyahu.
To do this, however, Israel must have control over the security of the entire area west of the Jordan. “This is a necessary condition that contradicts the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty,” the Israeli prime minister added, specifying that he had said this openly to the Americans.
“With all due respect to them (the United States), we are no longer a star on the American flag,” the very right-wing Israeli Interior Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said ironically two weeks earlier, reminding us: “The United States is our best friend.”
A concrete friendship: According to a US Congress report, Israel has received $260 billion since its founding. This makes the Jewish state the country that has received the most greenbacks since the end of World War II.
To what extent can Israel say “no” to America and what impact does that have on the Palestinian issue? Decryption with David Khalfa, co-director of the Observatory for North Africa and the Middle East of the Jean Jaurès Foundation.
France 24 : Are we experiencing a turning point in Israeli-American relations? ?
David Khalfa: The Israeli-American bilateral relationship is described as “special” because it is based on both shared values and strategic interests. However, relations between Americans and Israelis have never been idyllic.
It is a passionate relationship between two friends and allies, but one that has also experienced periods of tension. These tensions are even old. We could easily return to the presidency of Eisenhower, then Johnson, Carter or, more recently, Obama. Even Donald Trump, despite being described by Netanyahu as “Israel’s best friend,” did not hesitate last October to call Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant an “idiot” or to criticize the Israeli prime minister following the October 7 massacres.
Israeli-American relations are currently experiencing renewed turmoil. At this point, it is not an open crisis, for one very simple reason: Joe Biden (who is Catholic, editor's note) defines himself as a Zionist, and his support for Israel is embedded in his personal history and politics . His support for the Jewish state, which faces a multi-front war, comes not thanks to but in spite of Netanyahu, with whom the relationship is complicated and turbulent.
See alsoIsraeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Return of the Two-State Solution
The creation of a Palestinian state is being promoted by Washington and Riyadh and even by parts of the Israeli ruling class. Can Benjamin Netanyahu stop it? ?
In the short term, yes. Benjamin Netanyahu will do absolutely anything to stay in power, and his strategy is clearly to wage war for as long as possible because he knows he is unpopular and surrounded by business. He therefore tries to gain time and hopes to regain the favor of public opinion by putting on the war leader costume. Netanyahu is a shrewd and calculating politician, but he is weakened by his reliance on his Faustian alliance with the far right, which rejects any prospect of resolving the conflict in the form of a two-state solution.
Furthermore, he is old, on borrowed time, and will have to relinquish the reins of power sooner or later. Apart from the reflex of national unity maintained by the war and the trauma of October 7th, the Israeli population has largely withdrawn its support. Polls show his popularity is declining, including among moderate right-wing voters.
But the Gulf petromonarchies' political offer to pave the way for the normalization of their relations with Israel through significant progress in the creation of a Palestinian state will outlive Benjamin Netanyahu. Even more so because the leaders at the top of the petromonarchies are young and likely to remain at the top for decades to come. Finally, it must be added that Israel's political configuration will fundamentally change after Netanyahu's departure. The center, embodied by Benny Gantz, should take the torch and send the right and the far right back into opposition.
What about the United States? By rejecting the Democratic government's proposals, is Benjamin Netanyahu betting on Donald Trump's victory in the American presidential election? ?
Absolutely, but it's a risky bet. Because the relations between Benjamin Netanyahu and the extremely unstable Donald Trump are now very fresh. The former American president believes that Benjamin Netanyahu betrayed him by recognizing Joe Biden's election victory in November 2020.
Then consider that the $14.5 billion in additional emergency aid that Joe Biden promised Israel has still not been approved by the Senate because Republicans oppose it. And this is for purely political reasons that have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and everything to do with the polarization of American political life.
Every Democratic proposal is a pretext for systematic Republican blockade, even if it means prioritizing their immediate political interest in the United States' strategic alliance with Israel. Conversely, if Donald Trump comes to power, Democrats will likely pursue an identical strategy of systematic obstruction.
Could the $3.8 billion in military aid that Washington gives Israel each year be called into question? ?
Beyond the tenant of the White House, there is a pro-Israel tradition at the Pentagon, with most American strategists believing that the alliance with Israel is primarily in America's interest.
But if the aid itself is not questioned, the conditions for its provision risk becoming more complicated, as we are witnessing a politicization of American military support for the Jewish state, although this issue has so far escaped real debate in the United States States.
Tendency towards isolationism on the Republican side and progressivism on the Democratic side: Developments in American politics will lead Israel to make further concessions in the medium term if that country wants to maintain a high level of US diplomatic and military support.
Especially since the Israelis are more dependent than ever on this military aid, especially because they have relied on high-tech, while conflicts in urban areas are insatiably dependent on artillery ammunition of all kinds, even “low-tech”, such as tank shells, which are not in Israel made.
This gives the Americans influence over Israel's conduct of the war. The establishment of humanitarian corridors in Gaza, the increase in humanitarian aid to the Gaza population, and the reduction of Israel's military footprint in the Palestinian enclave were achieved under pressure from the US government, contrary to what Benjamin Netanyahu tells his own people want.