By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The long-term trends of US-Israel relations do not hinge solely/mostly on US presidents, as has been documented since Israel’s establishment in 1948, and especially since the early 1980s, when – in spite of systematic presidential pressure on Israel – bilateral industrial, commercial, scientific, technological, agricultural, homeland security and defense cooperation have surged beyond expectations.
For instance, President Truman pressured Prime Minister Ben Gurion to end the “occupation” of West Jerusalem and parts of the Negev and Galilee; President Johnson pressured Prime Minister Eshkol to refrain from reuniting Jerusalem and building in “occupied areas”; President Reagan pressured Prime Minister Begin to rescind the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights; President Bush pressured Prime Minister Shamir to recognize the PLO and refrain from construction in Judea & Samaria.
But, notwithstanding presidential pressure - which entailed arms-embargos, suspended deliveries of advanced military systems, denial of loan guarantees and brutal condemnations - Israel’s role as America’s Major Non-NATO Ally and the most effective and unconditional geo-strategic ally has catapulted to unprecedented levels.
The assumption that US-Israel relations are shaped from the top down, and determined by US presidents and “elites,” constitutes a slap in the face of the US democracy, which highlights the American constituent as its chief axis, emitting the thundering battle cry, which no elected official can afford to ignore: “we shall remember in November!” According to the annual February Gallup poll of country-favorability – despite the tension between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu - Israel ranks systematically among the most favorable countries, enjoying the support of 71% of the US constituency, compared with the Palestinian Authority's 19%.
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