Via Didi Remez at 972, Yedioth Achronoth’s defense analyst Alex Fishman has a lengthy, fascinating rundown of how Benjamin Netanyahu got to bargaining with President Obama over what was once thought of as unbargainable: U.S. security guarantees for Israel.
It boils down to this (but read the whole thing):
–Israel and the United States have, since the dying days of the Bush administration, been negotiating a security package that would last until 2030 (current guarantees are in place until 2017) and would include state of the art F-35 fighter jets.
–At their July meeting, Bibi told Obama he would make far-reaching diplomatic compromises if Obama could wrap up the 20 year security assistance deal.
–Last month, after negotiations between Ehud Barak, Yitzhak Molcho and Dennis Ross, the deal was ready. The United States put together a letter.
Bibi balked. Why?
Fishman suggests a number of reasons: When Barak delivered the deal, it came with a stipulation: Deliverable upon a final status deal with the Palestinians, Netanyahu realized that because of the ball he set in motion, Israel’s security cooperation was — for the first time in decades — conditional upon diplomatic outcomes.
Another is that Bibi was seeking time to kill the talks with the Palestinians.
The upshot, Fishman says, is that Bibi is now proposing an alternative: A formal defense alliance. This gives Israel’s defense establishment the major creeps — it potentially removes from Israel its much cherished independence in making defense related decisions.
Were a proposal of a formal alliance come to Congress, it would help explain the recent insistence by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the incoming majority leader, that he would keep Obama’s feet to the fire over maintaining "synonymous" U.S.-Israel security interests. Same again if Obama sustains his own insistence on tying security assistance to diplomatic outcomes.
Fishman is sharp reliable, but the whole thing — Israeli journalism style — is utterly unsourced.
Here’s his conclusion:
In the meantime, there is no talk about a crisis in Israel-US relations, but rather a malfunction. If this goes on, the malfunction is liable to turn into a diplomatic catastrophe, if not a security catastrophe.