US and Israel: On the Rocks or Just Rhetoric?

By Seth Freed Wessler Mar 24, 2010

Israel’s declaration that it will continue to build 1600 new homes for Jews in East Jerusalem despite U.S. dissent threatens to derail any peace process and “exposes the light between Israel and the United State,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told audience members gathered at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention on Monday. Israel’s move to expand settlements in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem is the latest in a line of snubs to international law that now appear to be causing small riffs between Israel and it’s largest financier and supporter. In a hushed meeting yesterday between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the President is presumed to have expressed his disappointment over the expansion. But, whether the administration will follow the words with political action is yet to be seen. In the same AIPAC speech, Clinton affirmed her unwavering support for Israel and promised more biting UN sanctions on Iran. The call for sanctions comes despite statements by General David Patraeus last week that Iran would not have a nuclear weapon this year. The commitment to bolster sanctions, coupled with pronouncements of immutable support for Israel just a year after the Israeli Army committed what have been broadly called acts against humanity and war crimes during its assault of Gaza, raise uncomfortable questions about American foreign policy. As Norman Finkelstein pointed out on Democracy Now yesterday, even US law prohibits the supplying of weapons to a country consistently violating human rights standards. Yet the United States continues to provide arms to Israel, including manufacturing chemical weapons used in Gaza. Last month, Obama requested record levels of US aid to Israel in his annual budget. The Obama Administration has yet to shift it’s policy toward Israel though flashes of international dissent are emerging elsewhere. Britain expelled the Israeli intelligence head in London this week for using fake British passports in connection with the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai. Last week, the University of California Berkeley Student Senate voted to divest from two companies that provide military support to Israeli occupation.