U.S.-Israel Cooperation Can Be a Model for Countering China

June 24 2020

In the past year, a consensus has emerged in Washington that Beijing poses an economic, security, and military threat to American interests. The Trump administration has therefore been pressuring its allies, including Israel, to pull back from commercial and technological cooperation with China. As a result, the Jewish state has taken some important steps to distance itself from the Asian power. But, write Mark Dubowitz and Jonathan Schanzer, the U.S. must also help Jerusalem find much-needed economic investment elsewhere, and can do so in ways beneficial to America’s emerging anti-China coalition:

Founded in 1977 by the U.S. and Israel with bipartisan support from Congress, the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) had approved 1,000 joint American-Israeli projects and grants of $363 million, as of 2019. Other binational agreements between the two countries build on the BIRD model, including the Binational Agricultural Research and Development fund and the Binational Science Foundation.

[Additionally, there is the] potential of bringing in America’s Indo-Pacific allies who view Beijing’s rise with justifiable alarm. They can displace Chinese investments. The India-Israel Research and Development Cooperation Initiative, for example, which is based on the BIRD model, could include American participation to jumpstart greater Indian investment in Israel’s high-tech sector. Other Indo-Pacific allies should be brought into new BIRD-like trilateral agreements with the U.S. and Israel in order to unleash more capital.

Congress should build upon the success of the BIRD. It has already jumpstarted U.S.-Israel high-tech cooperation. It’s time now to help Israel and our friends in the Indo-Pacific region develop technologies critical to the competition with Beijing. In doing so, America can displace Chinese funding in Israel and mount a successful campaign to counter Chinese influence that should have started long ago.

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Read more at Newsweek

More about: India, Israel-China relations, Israeli economy, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy