In the third and final head-to-head debate of the United States presidential election the Republican and Democratic candidates each attempted to out-support the other in dealing with Israel. President Barack Obama has stated time and again that the United States has a “rock solid” commitment to the security and integrity of Israel. His Republican opponent has built his entire foreign policy credential on steadfast support of Israel.
During their final presidential debate the two men exchanged anecdotes and examples of how supportive they have been and will continue to be.
President Obama recalled his trip to Israel in 2008 and the airtight nature of intelligence cooperation between the Israeli and American intelligence communities. The president spoke of upcoming joint-exercises that will be the largest such demonstration of military cooperation ever held by the two nations.
President Obama discussed his phone call with Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, during which he outlined a clear red line for American support of Egypt’s fledgling democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood must unflinchingly maintain the peace agreement signed in 1979 by Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin.
President Obama stated that his administration gauges its interests and involvement in Syria from an Israeli-centered viewpoint. The Obama administration’s support of rebel groups during the conflict, and potential support for whatever government emerges from the conflict, will hinge on a commitment to look after Israeli concerns. The desires of the Syrian people would only be met after guaranteeing a favorable situation for Tel Aviv.
Mr. Romney, to his credit, largely spent the evening agreeing with President Obama’s current policies and stated goals. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has endorsed the former governor’s presidential bid. Mr. Romney promised that his close friendship with Prime Minister Netanyahu would create even tighter bonds between Washington and Tel Aviv – not to be outdone, vice-President Joe Biden has spoken many times of his close friendship with “Bibi” going back several decades.
Mr. Romney, rather than differing with the current administration, is convinced that he will simply do things “better” and faster. His promise to America was that if Israel should decide to attack Iran he would be the first to know and fall in line behind them.
When the two men discussed Israel not a single word was uttered regarding the plight of Palestinians or the threat that Israel presents to its neighbors.
In the media coverage of the event not a single major American news agency discussed the siege conditions in Gaza or the West Bank. There was no mention of the nearly two hundred illegal settlements, the theft of resources, or the harassment and killing of civilians by members of the Israeli military or settler groups.
President Obama certainly expressed a clearer understanding of the diplomatic conditions and political situations in the Middle East and North Africa than his opponent, but both men remain ardent supports of Israel. The United States remains committed to continuing its unwavering backing of Tel Aviv.
Washington should be expected to continue delivering billions of dollars each year to the Israeli military and government as they tighten their grip over occupied Palestine.