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 He also sought assurance that the UN Emergency Force in the Sinai couldn’t be withdrawn just due to the sole demand of the Egyptians.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.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin