February 25, 2015
The once rock-solid relationship between the United States and Israel is in disarray. Not since the Eisenhower era has there been such tension if not open hostility in the White House toward Israel. Former Obama campaign aide Dennis Ross’ comments that Barack Obama had “a commitment of the head and heart” toward Israel seem naïve if not cynical. As president, Obama moved to reverse commitments made by President Bush in a 2004 letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that acknowledged that any peace would reflect “new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers,” and that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” And as Israel faced a Hamas missile barrage this past summer, the Obama administration cut off arms shipments to Israel.
Coloring the decline in relations has been Obama’s personal antipathy to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This has culminated in this past month’s dispute about Netanyahu accepting Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to have the Israeli leader address a joint session of Congress. The personal animus reflected in the diplomatic spat covers the fact that the White House is apparently willing to acquiesce to Iran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb.
The next US administration will either confirm or reverse the Obama administration’s shift on Israel. The next US president will have to decide if he or she believes that the United States should maintain a special relationship with Israel, and how to balance Israel’s security and defense needs against existential threats with any desire for rapprochement with Iran and a continuation of the peace process. Whereas many candidates seek to be all things to all people, answers to these questions will force candidates to declare precisely where they stand on key issues involving the US-Israel relationship.
Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: 5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Israel edition