On the topic of Israel, what actions are you looking for the next president to take? – Benjamin Margolin

September 23, 2016

It is undeniable that the next president will play a significant role in determining the U.S.-Israel relationship for the duration of her or his presidency. Keeping with current precedent, there are a few things the next president ought to uphold in this strategic relationship.

First, on the international institutional level, the president should maintain America’s steadfast support of Israel. Practically, this means vetoing biased and discriminatory legislation in the UN Security Council and upholding a fair treatment of Israel in all UN agencies (UNESCO is one that immediately comes to mind).

The second point worth monitoring is the maintenance of previous agreements. In this case, supporting full congressional funding for the Memorandum of Understanding, while being cognizant that in times of war more funds might be needed.

This annual foreign aid package is spent in the U.S. (thereby creating American jobs) and provides Israel with the necessary defensive capabilities it needs to keep its citizens safe. New reports indicate that Hezbollah in Lebanon has 150,000 rockets prepped for war with Israel. If there is a war, the international community needs to know that the United States is not neutral.

Hezbollah and Hamas are both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations, and it is important to recognize that the United States will stand behind Israel in regard to the imminent national security threats it faces on its borders.

Thirdly, I hope that the next U.S. president will restore the no daylight principle that was once commonplace. The principle assured that disagreements between the U.S. and Israel would occur in private, not in the public sphere. In practice this would mean if dirty laundry comes up, it should not be aired to the world, but instead be addressed behind closed doors. While the U.S. and Israel inevitably won’t agree on every issue, it is crucial that the international community views the two states as insuperable allies. The safety and security of the State of Israel impacts our own national security, thereby making this an ally we ought not appear neutral about.

Finally, I hope that the next president recognizes that in order for a final status agreement to be reached, direct negotiations need to take place between Israelis and Palestinians. Coerced frameworks of borders are doomed to fail. The next time the French seek to impose a final status agreement in the region, the United States should not waiver in their condemnation of the conference. It just won’t work—the Israelis will never, and should never, take it seriously.

This also requires more neutrality on the part of the United States; reversing President Obama’s embrace of the pre-1967 borders (with mutually agreed trade swaps) will prove to be an effective first step toward healthy and direct bilateral negotiations.

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