American and Israeli flags.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK, NY- The “unbreakable bond” between Israel and the United States, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned in his UN speech, could begin to errode if the occupation continues, according to Vice President for Communications at J Street Alan Elsner.
Elsner told The Jerusalem Post that even though a distinction should be made between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama’s relationship and the US-Israel relationship more broadly, indefinitley occupying Palestinian territories and building settlements may put cracks in the common values that hold the relationship between the two countries together.
“These common values are democracy, freedom , ethical behavior, respect for minorities, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and treatment of women for example,” Elsner said, “To the extent that Israel lives up to those values, the relationship will remain very healthy.”
The subject of the Iran nuclear deal has created an unprecedented rift between the United States and Israel over the past year, but after stressing once again Israel’s opposition to the agreement, the prime minister told American journalists last week that he was ready to turn the page and repair the relationship with President Obama.
“I do think that Netanyahu has done tremendous damage to the relationship not because he doesn’t like Obama but because he turned Israel into a partisan issue when it was always a bipartisan issue,” Elsner told The Post.
“By siding so blatantly with the republicans and acting quite frankly as if he is a republican, he has politicized the issue.” he added.
According to Elsner, the disagreements between the two have helped some pro-Israel democrats realize that “they can be pro-Israel without walking lockstep with the Israeli governement, without supporting the occupation, without supporting the settlements.”
“I think that’s a healthy development because it enables americans to who love Israel and want the best for Israel to dissociate their love for Israel from a kind of blind loyalty to the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu,” he told the Post.
Elsner added that he expects to see more disagreements and political rifts between Obama and Netanyahu throughout the ongoing 2016 presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, addressing Netanyahu's recent appeal to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to resume peace talks, Elsner said there is "zero chance" of a rapprochement between the two leaders.
“These two leaders do not trust each other and are not strong enough or brave enough to actually move forward. The best we can expect from them is to avert the worst - and even that is not certain,” Elsner said.