Reaffirming the Ground Rules for the U.S.-Israel Alliance

January 16, 2023 | Meir Ben-Shabbat
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Last week, Jake Sullivan, the American national security advisor, announced that he is planning a visit to the Jewish state in order to meet with members of the new governing coalition. Meir Ben-Shabbat, who served in the equivalent position in the Israeli government from 2017 to 2021, suggests how Jerusalem should approach the key issues apt to be on the table when Sullivan arrives.

The special relations between the two nations and the bipartisan support Israel enjoys in the U.S. [constitute] an overarching interest for Israel. However, Israel is a sovereign country that formulates its policies on its own accord and in view of the responsibility that history has given it as the state of the Jewish people and with the realization that the struggle continues over its existence, stature, and security.

A strong Israel is a boon for the U.S. in various aspects: security-wise, technology-wise, and economically. Israel will therefore continue to use its power to defend itself and will not allow its existence to be threatened. The U.S. should at the very least have our back.

As for domestic issues, Prime Minister Netanyahu should make it clear that Israel is a vibrant and young democracy that sorts things out on hot-button issues through the democratic process. There is no room for meddling and foreign influence by any side.

Iran will certainly be high on Benjamin Netanyahu’s list of concerns, and most likely on Sullivan’s as well. Ben-Shabbat observes:

Iran’s activities in the Ukraine war and the failure to revive the 2015 deal provide an opportunity [for the U.S.] to change [its] policy toward Tehran. Europe might be more receptive to this than before. It’s important to take note that it would be wrong to assume that this new approach will drag the U.S. into war. In fact, such a policy will reduce the risk of a war breaking out in the Middle East over Iran’s continued efforts to implement its vision.

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