Time for another reassessment

In light of the recent NPT Review Conference results, Israel should rethink the value of all US promises, regardless of how or where they were made.

Ahmadinejad at NPT 311 (photo credit: AP)
Ahmadinejad at NPT 311
(photo credit: AP)
The term “reassessment” entered the diplomatic discourse between Israel and the United States in 1975. Secretary of state Henry Kissinger sought to pressure prime minister Yitzhak Rabin into an “interim agreement” with Egypt, by which IDF forces would withdraw from the Yom Kippur War cease-fire lines to the Mitla and Gidi passes in Sinai. Kissinger froze US arms shipments and hinted that more drastic measures would follow. Rabin was unfazed and took his case to the Senate. President Gerald Ford and Kissinger relented.
Even at the height of that crisis, the US did not dare to endanger the heart of its strategic understanding with Israel: its ambiguous nuclear policy. President Lyndon Johnson and prime minister Golda Meir set the policy in 1969 that has been followed by all the presidents and prime ministers since. This policy has often been articulated in written agreements between them, but occasionally simply by mutual understanding.
“Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to theMiddle East,” said prime ministers Levi Eshkol and Shimon Peres, GoldaMeir and Yitzhak Rabin, and all who followed. US presidents have comeand gone; sometimes they had questions, sometimes they asked forclarifications, but ultimately they all accepted the formula and agreedto abide by it. Until Barack Obama.
After his election, Obama promised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tomaintain the ambiguity. Two weeks ago he betrayed that promise.
On May 28, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference,which meets once every five years, called unanimously – with America’ssupport – for Israel to sign the treaty and open its nuclearinstallations to external supervision. Israel is not a signatory to thetreaty; Iran is a signatory, yet Iran is rushingtoward production of nuclear weapons. Syria and Libya are signatories,but their signatures have not prevented them from building uraniumenrichment plants for military purposes.
North Korea built a bomb and tests nuclear weapons, mocking the entireworld supposedly opposed to it. Pakistani scientists, led by the“father of the Pakistan’s nuclear bomb” Abdul Qadeer Khan, sold nuclearsecrets and technology necessary for the building of nuclear weapons toIran, Syria, Libya and possibly North Korea. In the face of thisburgeoning industry, the US gave in to an Egyptian initiative andagreed to single out Israel as the country the world should be worriedabout. Israel alone was mentioned in the NPT Review Committee’s report.Apparently only its installations need to be examined.
THE TIME has come for a reassessment of US-Israeli relations. Israelmay want the billions of dollars it receives in military aid from theUS, and in the event of a long war, it may need the US munitionsreserves currently stored here and resupply lines for the IDF; the USmarket is also of great importance for the economy; and US interventionoften limits our international isolation. But the fact is, we can nolonger rely on US support.
We must reassess the value of all American promises, whether they be inwriting, made ceremoniously at public festivities or whisperedprivately in a room of the White House. He who, without batting aneyelash, betrayed us on the nuclear issue, a matter whose existentialimportance to the Jewish state is obvious given the Iranian dash for abomb, will not hesitate to deny other commitments.
Obama is currently pressuring Israel to accept dictates that would leadto a Palestinian state in the heart of its country. In return, heoffers to guarantee our security, preserve our technological advantageand ensure the Palestinian state will be demilitarized. Why wouldanyone be willing to take existential risks while relying on thecommitment of an American president who has betrayed and denied thecommitments of his predecessors and forgotten even his own?
One might think that as our military and political situation worsens,our ability to maneuver opposite the US decreases. But with our back tothe wall and knowing full well that we have no one to rely on, we canturn this lack of maneuverability into resoluteness and the dearth ofoptions into strength. When doubts are resolved, fortitude may emerge.The knowledge that American promises are without value is of itselfquite valuable. Even a pauper will not agree to give the little he hasin exchange for a guarantee openly declared to be worthless.
Obama is no more frightening than Ford. Hillary Clinton dislikes us nomore than Kissinger did. The sea we are threatened with being throwninto is the same sea. The Arabs are the same Arabs. But the wall ourbacks are up against is much closer and more dangerous. The depth ofObama’s betrayal must be made known to the American public today. Asthe November elections approach in the United States, Netanyahu has theopportunity to replicate Rabin’s achievement of 1975.
The writer is a National Union MK.