Conditioning Aid to Israel

(Israel Policy Forum) Michael J. Koplow - Conditioning security assistance to Israel as a way of influencing Israeli behavior has been raised by certain Democratic presidential candidates. If conditioning aid to Israel is intended as a way of punishing Israeli behavior, then it downgrades a vitally important defense and intelligence relationship for the purposes of making a values statement, and does it to an ally whose behavior has not approached anything like apartheid-era South Africa or Russia following its invasion and annexation of Crimea. If it is intended to alter Israeli behavior going forward, then it turns into a question whether it will accomplish its objective. The evidence suggests that it would create more problems than it solves. Anyone who has dealt with Israelis knows that threats tend to be met with greater determination to maintain the original course of action. As valuable and important as $3.8 billion in annual security assistance is to Israel, the country would be able to live without it. It is also worth noting that cancelling out all assistance to the Palestinians has not changed Palestinian behavior one iota, but has rather given them an easy rationale to take an even harder line. Moreover, if withholding security assistance means less money for Iron Dome batteries, for instance, it makes larger numbers of Israeli civilian casualties a certainty when rockets are shot from Gaza, which in turn makes an Israeli ground invasion and exponentially higher Palestinian casualties just as certain. It will also incentivize riskier preemptive Israeli actions, not only against Palestinian terror groups but also against Iran, if Israel believes that its qualitative military edge has been eroded. The writer is Policy Director at the Israel Policy Forum in Washington.

2019-11-01 00:00:00

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