Under Trump, the U.S. is no longer playing good-cop-bad-cop with Israel in the Middle East. Now, it’s just two bad cops.
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who secured his fifth premiership in Tuesday’s elections, colluded with U.S. President Donald Trump, Netanyahu’s own tweets reveal.
The U.S. and Israel, both founded as settler-colonial states, have a symbiotic relationship. And just as Israeli spies have meddled in American elections, the U.S. has long meddled in Israel’s.
This time, under Trump, that meddling has been marked by unprecedented appeasements to the Israeli far right. It also serves a dual purpose, as Trump has made shoring up support from American Jews a feature of 2020 reelection strategy.
Netanyahu faced the toughest opposition he has encountered to date. In a last ditch effort to make his reelection inevitable, he promised to officially annex the West Bank — a not-so-subtle affirmation to the all-powerful settler movement that he has their backs. And just three weeks prior to the election, Trump gave another gift to the Israeli settler movement by officially recognizing Syria’s Golan Heights — which Israeli partially, and illegally, annexed in 1967 — as rightfully Israel’s.
But on Monday, just one day prior to Israelis heading to the polls, Netanyahu gushed on Twitter that Trump had fulfilled yet another “important request” of his: designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. In Hebrew (here translated literally), Netanyahu tweeted:
Thank you, my dear friend, U.S. President Donald Trump, for having decided to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. Thank you for responding to another important request of mine.”
The longtime Isreali leader’s English-language tweet differed significantly from the Hebrew one. The former read:
Thank you, President Donald Trump for your decision to designate the Islamic revolutionary guards [sic] as a terrorist organization. Once again you are keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism.”
The English tweet was issued about an hour after the Hebrew one. In that timespan, AFP’s Palestine reporter noted:
Normally Netanyahu thanks Trump in English but this time, with Trump designating IRGC a terrorist organisation hours before Israeli elections, he does it in Hebrew. Aimed at Israelis sitting on fence.”
While Netanyahu did wind up tweeting a ‘thank you’ message to Trump in English, the differences were stark. In the Hebrew one, Netanyahu claimed responsibility for Trump’s decision, as it was an “important request” of his. It is impossible to describe Trump’s gift to a foreign leader facing a tough reelection as anything other than meddling and, given the timing of the move and phrasing of Netanyahu’s tweet, it is probable that the two colluded.
Last year, Netanyahu was caught on camera bragging at a dinner party about having convinced Trump to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran Nuclear Deal).
“We convinced the U.S. president [to leave the deal], and I had to stand up against the whole world and come out against this agreement,” Netanyahu said at the party. He and his pals then went on to patter about the demise of the Iranian government. “From your mouth to God,” Netanyahu added.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 17, 2018
Like the collusion laid bare by Netanyahu’s Hebrew-language tweet, the timeline of the U.S. pullout from the deal paints a clear picture of a conspiracy. Just one week before Trump’s deadline to make a decision on whether the U.S. would or would not renege on the deal, Netanyahu gave a powerpoint presentation declaring “Iran lied.” That was April 30, 2018.
“Tonight I am here to tell you one thing: Iran lied. Big time,” he said.
Hours later, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement:
Now that the world knows Iran has lied and is still lying, it is time to revisit the question of whether Iran can be trusted to enrich or control any nuclear material.
The documents obtained by Israel from inside of Iran show beyond any doubt that the Iranian regime was not telling the truth. I have personally reviewed many of the Iranian files.”
And a few hours later — we’re still on April 30 — Trump spoke at a news conference in front of the White House:
It’s proven right what Israel has done today with the news conference. And Prime Minister Netanyahu just gave a very — I don’t know if everybody has seen it, but I got to see a little bit of it. And that is just not an acceptable situation.”
Even Fox, the president’s cable-news lickspittles, ran a segment claiming that while Netanyahu’s presentation was done in Israel, “if you read between the lines, it was aimed squarely at the White House.”
Then again, as Trump announced the U.S. would be leaving the deal on May 8, he cited Israeli “intelligence”:
Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie … Last week, Israel published intelligence documents long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.”
As Sputnik News noted, Israel started bombing allegedly Iranian targets in Syria within one hour of Trump’s announcement. A month later, Netanyahu told a London-based think tank that the Iran Deal was dead and Syrian President Bashar Assad was “no longer immune” from “retaliation.”
The U.S. has long meddled in Israel’s elections
Unlike previous U.S. presidents, who have meddled in Israeli elections in order to support peace processes, Trump is doing the opposite by appeasing the settler movement, columnist Akiva Eldar argued in a recent op-ed.
“There have been administrations that were more involved than others in the peace negotiations,” Eldar wrote, in addition to other “presidents who were more tuned than others to the pressure from the conservative” pro-Israel lobby.
Eldar detailed this history in his opinion piece, starting with President Jimmy Carter, whose efforts to secure a peace deal between Egypt and Israel were made in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s while Menachem Begin of the right-wing Likud was prime minister. The Camp David Accords were rejected by Begin’s party, however, and so it ate its own. That led to the 1981 victory of Likud hardliner Yitzah Shamir, a former Mossad agent who rejected the deal while presiding over the Knesset.
Shamir would go on, in 1991, to complain that President George H.W. Bush was meddling in Israeli affairs by conditioning a $10 billion loan to Israel on its halting of new settlements. Bush Sr. even urged Arab leaders to keep peace negotiations afloat until the election. Shamir eventually gave in to U.S. demands and lost his reelection in 1992.
Following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin by a Zionist fanatic, Shimon Peres became interim prime minister amid a popular distaste for Rabin’s Oslo Accord negotiations. In a bid to keep Peres in power, President Bill Clinton participated in some high-profile photo-ops. In 2018, Clinton admitted that he ran interference for Peres “in a way that was consistent with what I believed to be in Israel’s interest.”
Clinton admits interfering in Israeli election https://t.co/o0i9pF1asp
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) April 3, 2018
As Eldar notes, “He [Clinton] didn’t say anything about his interest to help his wife receive the support of the New York Jewish constituency in the congressional election.”
Clinton later blamed Yasser Arafat for the collapse of the Camp David Summit, “an attempt to help PM Ehud Barak in his electoral race against Likud’s Ariel Sharon,” Eldar wrote.
While Washington orthodoxy dictates strict adherence to a two-state solution, the idea has long stalled a real resolution to Israeli apartheid, as Israeli settlers continue to make bold land grabs. The far-right president, in bucking the trend of supporting peace processes so doomed, coupled with the far-right prime minister, now emboldened by his fifth premiership, are on a path to see the total disappearance of historical Palestine from the map.
Under Trump, the U.S. is no longer playing good-cop-bad-cop. Now, it’s just two bad cops.
Top photo | An election campaign billboard shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and US President Donald Trump in Jerusalem, Feb. 4, 2019. Hebrew on the billboard reads: “Netanyahu is a different league.” Israel will hold elections April. 9, 2019. Oded Balilty | AP
Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.