Christian Science Monitor: ‘Israel Shrugs Off Mitchell’s Loan Threat’
US backing for Israel’s loan guarantees has been a hot issue in the past, most pointedly in the early 1990s when the administration of George H. W. Bush faced a head-on collision with the Likud premier, Yitzhak Shamir, who refused to curtail settlement building in the West Bank. Ultimately, the Bush administration decided it would subtract equivalent amounts of money from the $10 billion in loan guarantees for every dollar Israel spent building settlements in the occupied territories. The outcome of the spat was a low-point in US-Israel relations.
“Theoretically of course, the withdrawal of loan guarantees could be an act of pressure, but Israel doesn’t really need loan guarantees,” says Peter Medding, an expert on US-Israel relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “But if they try to do it, as they did very unsuccessfully in the early 1990s, it would have to come from the White House. I don’t think it’s Obama’s style, and I don’t think it fits the circumstances. If anything, they’ve been trying to persuade Abbas to come to the party, and are still waiting for him. ”
Certainly, Senators John McCain (R) of Arizona and Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut agree with this view, as the two expressed during a press conference in Jerusalem.
“Any attempt to pressure Israel, to force Israel, to the negotiating table by denying Israel support will not pass the Congress of the United States,” said Senator Lieberman.
Senator McCain added: “We disagree, obviously, with that comment and I am sure that you will see the administration in the future say that is certainly not the administration’s policy.”
So, we’re withholding loan guarantees in an attempt to keep the Israelis from building settlements. How positively lovely and non-interventionist.
The thing is, when confronted with this the left is going to insist that because George Herbert Walker Bush played games with the loan guarantees before, it’s okay for Barack Obama to do so now. And they’re right to bring it up. The problem with that argument, though, is that George Bush, Sr. and his administration didn’t have a serious problem with Israel. He didn’t send $900 million in aid to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He didn’t give a speech to the Muslim world in which he compared the horrors of the Holocaust with the Palestinians’ six decades spent without a homeland.
When it comes to support of Israel, President Barack Obama doesn’t quite start with a tremendous deal of credibility. He blames America and our allies first, refuses to address evil as evil, and kowtows to the tenets of political correctness which Israel–a nation only one attack away from annihilation–cannot afford to even acknowledge.
So, when he withholds loan guarantees, it seems a little bit different than when it was done before. Maybe he does it with a smile — I don’t know. The way I look at it, though, Barack Obama is one Hezbollah hug away from being Jimmy Carter.