UPDATE 10 am Israel time:
The last 24 hours have seen skirmishes along the Israel-Gaza border with at least 5 mortar shells fired into southern Israel by Hamas Palestinian terrorists.
President Obama’s policy toward Israel has more twists and turns than the famously dangerous switchback road that deviously descends from Mitzpe Ramon down into the Ramon Makhtesh. It is a zigzagging policy that causes some people to say that there has never been a worse American President for Israel and others to say that Obama has been a good President for Israel.
The events of the last 48 hours display Obama’s zigzagging in stark relief. Your humble servant will leave it to you, dear reader, to decide which side of the Obama fence you are on.
Last Friday, July 27th, President Obama signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act—an Act that had been initiated by the U.S. Congress, shepherded through the Congressional legislative process by Congressional leaders, and served up to the President on a golden platter ten days before (where it languished on Obama’s desk until a photo-op opportunity arose on the eve of Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s arrival in Israel on Saturday).
In essence, as has been pointed out by others, the Act does not really break new ground; most of its provisions are “declarative” and already in force. In its “Findings” section, it does contain a not-so-veiled criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy: “Over the past year, the Middle East has witnessed the fall of some regimes long considered to be stabilizing forces and a rise in the influence of radical Islamists.”
Yet for the most part it recapitulates what the U.S. Congress has done and will do to support Israel.
For example, Section 4:2 states that Congress will “Provide Israel assistance specifically for the production and procurement of the Iron Dome defense system for purposes of intercepting short-range missiles, rockets, and projectiles launched against Israel.”
And Section 4:3 states that Congress will “Provide Israel defense articles and defense services through such mechanisms as appropriate, to include air refueling tankers, missile defense capabilities, and specialized munitions.”
Your humble servant mentions these two sections because the ink was not yet dry on the Act before President Obama tried to steal Congressional thunder (and Romney’s) by announcing a “previously authorized” $70 million is U.S. funding for new Iron Dome systems and letting it be known that Israel would also be receiving air refueling tankers.
I suppose all of us here in Israel are supposed to say “Thank you President Obama” for “giving” us what had already been authorized by the U.S. Congress.
But no sooner had Mitt Romney arrived in Israel and declared that “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” than the White House launched a full-scale attack on Romney and Israel.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said yesterday that Romney’s position is “a different position than this administration holds. It’s the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties.”
Then Earnest disingenuously added: ” . . . if Mr. Romney disagrees with that position, he’s also disagreeing with the position that was taken by Presidents like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.” This statement is laughable. Has anyone forgotten how President Obama felt breezily free to contradict the positions of previous presidents when it came to declaring that the pre-1967 lines should be the “basis” of the future border with a possible country of “Palestine.” Wasn’t the basis of that border supposed to be “determined in final status negotiations between the parties”?
So let’s get this straight. On the one hand, in the name of political expediency, President Obama is more than willing to go along with the U.S. Congress to support Israel’s ability to defend itself–but on the other hand, he is willing to cut the heart out of Israel by refusing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s sovereign capital.
The Lord Obama “giveth” and he taketh away.
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