A New Era for the US-Israel Relationship?

President Trump at the Israel Museum. Jerusalem May 23, 2017 President Trump at the Israel Museum. Jerusalem May 23, 2017

By Jennifer Dekel

Since the historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by President Trump on December 6, 2017, and the president’s pledge to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, many have suggested that the Israel-U.S. relationship has entered a new era.

Trump expressed his feelings about the renewed relationship between the two countries during a recent interview with Israel Hayom.  In response to the question, “Would you say that our nations are closer than ever before?,” the president stated, “I think they are probably as good as they have ever been.”

Since the beginning of his term, Trump and his administration have demonstrated their unwavering support for our one democratic ally in the Middle East. The administration withheld $65 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) due to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) refusal to engage in peace talks; condemned the PA’s “pay for slay” program, which financially rewards terrorists and families of terrorists held in Israeli prison; and withdrew from the United Nations’ Cultural and Educational Agency (UNESCO), due to its anti-Israel biases. And recent reports claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had unprecedented discussions with the U.S. about Israel annexing Judea and Samaria – the West Bank – although the U.S. subsequently denied having these discussions.

In reference to such claims, Sarah Stern, the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), said, “After a quarter of a century of pretending that they will one day make peace, while the Palestinian Authority continues to incite their people towards terrorism and Jihad, we think it’s a very important move by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to start talking about the legality of the settlement movement with the White House.”

This administration has taken commendable actions long overdue by the United States, and the president recognizes what many of his predecessors did not – the Palestinian leadership simply does not want peace. The P.A. continues to incite its people to violence, glorify and reward terrorism; demonize Jews and Israel; and refuses to recognize the State of Israel. The Palestinian leadership has been offered generous peace deals numerous times, including in 2000, 2005, and 2008, and rejected each one, instead responding with terror attacks against innocent civilians.

P.A. president Mahmoud Abbas recently stated that the Palestinians would not accept the U.S. as a broker for peace negotiations, calling the U.S. a “dishonest mediator.” Abbas, in response to the president’s Jerusalem announcement, said, “Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state,” and added that the P.A. will not recognize any previous agreements it made between the U.S. and Israel since the 1990s Oslo Accords.

Now that Israel is preparing its air defense in the North, following what some call a war which began on Saturday between Israel and Iran, it is critical that the U.S. stand by its ally. Iran infiltrated Israeli air space with a drone, which was then intercepted by Israel, in what was Iran’s first direct military operation against the Jewish State. Israel rightly retaliated Iran’s violation of its sovereignty with strikes against Iranian drone installations in Syria. One Israeli F-16 was abandoned by its pilots over Israel, following “massive Syrian anti-air fire,” according to reports.

Following the incident, Israel was met with overwhelming support by the United States. “Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria,” the White House said.

Pentagon spokesman said, “Israel is our closest security partner in the region and we fully support Israel’s inherent right to defend itself against threats to its territory and its people.”

The administration’s record of support for Israel, in words, and more importantly, in actions, is a far cry from the Obama administration’s continuous disrespect towards the Jewish State and Netanyahu for eight years.

The events of the weekend are a reminder to the world that Israel is willing to do whatever it needs to defend its sovereignty. And thankfully, this time around, there is someone sitting in the Oval Office that is willing to stand by her during her time of need.

About Jennifer Dekel 1 Article
Jennifer Dekel is the Director of Research and Communications at the Endowment for Middle East Truth. Prior to joining EMET, she served as a Senior Research Analyst at a national security think tank dedicated to investigating homeland security threats and combatting terrorism. Dekel has years of experience supporting the U.S. government with intelligence products and analyses. Her contributions to the fields of international security and counterterrorism have been recognized by national experts and law enforcement officials. She has authored numerous articles on issues including the Arab-Israeli conflict, international terrorism, and domestic security threats.