International Guarantees Are No Substitute for Durable Peace Treaties

The Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin famously told American diplomats, who were offering international security reassurances to back up a putative peace deal with the Palestinians, that “there is no guarantee that can guarantee a guarantee.” This has not prevented similar arrangements from being proposed ever since. But, as David Makovsky notes, Israel had learned Begin’s dictum the hard way in 1967:

After the Suez Crisis of 1956, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion conceded in principle to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, but requested several assurances before Israel could move ahead: among the assurances he sought were that the Straits of Tiran wouldn’t be blockaded again. . . . He also sought assurance that the UN Emergency Force in the Sinai couldn’t be withdrawn just due to the sole demand of the Egyptians.

President Dwight Eisenhower felt Israel was obligated to withdraw [its forces from the Sinai] and could not put forward conditions for a pullout. At the same, he acknowledged, it had legitimate concerns. To square this circle in March 1957, he offered Israel a text known as an aide-mémoire through the State Department, . . . explicitly stating that blocking the Straits of Tiran was unacceptable. It implied but did not state that the U.S. would be willing to use military means to back up its words. . . .

On May 22, 1967, Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the straits, a critical blow to Israel which relied on oil imports [shipped via the straits] from Iran. . . . In the wake of Nasser’s move on the straits, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol dispatched his foreign minister, Abba Eban, on a whirlwind trip to Paris, London, and Washington, to see if the international community would re-open the straits and avert war. . . . Charles de Gaulle, then [the president of France] declared, “that was 1957.” . . . President Lyndon Johnson was preoccupied with Vietnam, and his aides had to scurry to Eisenhower’s retirement residence in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to find out what had been promised. . . .

[T]he notion that international guarantees are not ironclad should not be confused with the thinking that Israel should rely only on force. The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel of 1979 and the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel of 1994 have withstood enormous regional and bilateral shocks in the last few decades. . . . [But if] the chips are down, Israel needs to be able to defend itself by itself.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Menachem Begin, Peace Process, Six-Day War, Suez Crisis


American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy