Opinion: Netanyahu and Trump bond causes damage to U.S.-Israel ties - PressFrom - US

OpinionNetanyahu and Trump bond causes damage to U.S.-Israel ties

00:30  17 august  2019
00:30  17 august  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

Israel official: Netanyahu weighing ban on Omar, Tlaib visit

Israel official: Netanyahu weighing ban on Omar, Tlaib visit Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding consultations with senior ministers and aides on Thursday to reevaluate the decision to allow two Democratic congresswomen to enter the country next week. © Provided by The Associated Press FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2019 file photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, joined at right by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listen to President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington.

WASHINGTON — The decision by Israel to bar two Muslim members of Congress from an official visit to the Jewish state is raising deep concerns in both parties that the hard-line views of President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are endangering the longstanding ties between the United

Trump ' s election buoyed Israel ' s hopes that the U . S . would embrace many of its positions in disputes with the Palestinians, including expanded settlements Netanyahu ’ s most immediate concern is Iran, and he'll likely push for additional sanctions. He could tout Israel ’ s strong relations with Egypt and

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Netanyahu and Trump bond causes damage to U.S.-Israel ties© Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc.

In a bit of summer time drama starring President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the government of Israel on Thursday banned two sitting members of the House of Representatives from entering the country, before offering to allow one to make a more personal visit with restrictions. The prime minister’s explanation that the two representatives — Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., violated a 2017 Israeli law barring entry to those calling for and acting to boycott Israel wasn’t fooling anyone. The law provides exceptions and waivers when restricting entry might damage Israel’s foreign relations — as it most certainly has.  Having sent signals as early as last month that the two representatives would be admitted, there’s little doubt the real explanation had little to do with the boycott and everything to do with Trump’s aggressive intervention to get the visit turned off. Here are the key takeaways.

AIPAC splits with Trump and Netanyahu, backs visit by Omar and Tlaib to Israel

AIPAC splits with Trump and Netanyahu, backs visit by Omar and Tlaib to Israel The prominent pro-Israel group American Israel Public Affairs Committee suggested Thursday it opposed a move by Israel -- and supported by President Donald Trump -- to bar Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country. AIPAC, which advocates for a staunch alliance between the US and Israel, has frequently sided with Trump administration policies that have supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, making its opposition especially notable. "We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib's support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep.

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Trump’s breathtaking intervention

I can tell you from personal experience working on Middle Eastern issues for both Republican and Democratic administrations, presidents have played favorites in Israeli politics before and intervened both directly and indirectly in Israeli politics. But this was much more than that. Trump pressured a longtime U.S. ally to go after his domestic political opponents to settle scores and drive an electoral agenda designed to convince voters that the two barred lawmakers are the face of the Democratic Party on Israel hostile against Jews and a Jewish state.

Israel to allow U.S. Rep Tlaib to visit family in West Bank

Israel to allow U.S. Rep Tlaib to visit family in West Bank ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS/USA (URGENT,TV,PIX):Israel to allow U.S. Rep Tlaib to visit family in West Bank

JERUSALEM — As President Trump appeared to shift closer to the political center on several contentious policies on Israel , Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested on Sunday that it was unrealistic to expect their two countries to agree completely on all issues.

Trump and Netanyahu should coordinate policies on fighting ISIS in Syria and explore ways to reduce the ISIS threat to Jordan and Egypt. The Trump – Netanyahu summit is a promising opportunity to reassert American leadership in the Middle East and strengthen U . S .– Israel strategic cooperation on

This wasn’t about intervening to elect Netanyahu as much as it was about a presidential vendetta and electing Trump. Hours before the government of Israel officially banned the representatives entry, Trump tweeted out that it would be a sign of weakness if Israel admitted them — effectively furthering his own political and personal vendetta against Omar and Rashid and pressuring Netanyahu to do the same.

The breathtaking arrogance and audacity of a president formally and publicly using Israel, and recruiting Netanyahu, against Democratic opponents is beyond unseemly,  directly threatens the essential bipartisanship and is virtually unprecedented in the seven decades of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

No help for Netanyahu

There’s no doubt that Trump in his consistent praising and fawning over Netanyahu has helped boost the prime minister's stock in Israel. Israelis pride themselves in their leaders’ ability to manage and bond with their most important ally. And Netanyahu has certainly received enormous benefits from Trump — first sitting president to pray at Western Wall; first to declare Jerusalem capital of Israel; open a U.S. Embassy there and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.  And Trump is certainly popular in Israel. But the way events played out in the Omar/Rashid affair may well have undermined Netanyahu’s image.

Trump suggests 'setup' after Tlaib rejects Israel's invite: 'Israel acted appropriately!'

Trump suggests 'setup' after Tlaib rejects Israel's invite: 'Israel acted appropriately!' President Trump suggested that Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., may have tried to set up the Israeli government after she backed away from her stated intention to visit her grandmother in the Middle East nation. © FoxNews.com Progressive 'Squad' member Congresswoman Tlaib cites 'oppressive conditions'; Trey Yingst reports from Jerusalem. "Israel was very respectful & nice to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, allowing her permission to visit her 'grandmother,'" Trump tweeted. "As soon as she was granted permission, she grandstanded & loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel.

RELATED: Netanyahu , Trump rekindle US - Israel bond as Mideast tensions loom. He did not specify whether his request that Netanyahu "hold back on settlements" applied only to the construction of new settlements, or the expansion of existing ones -- and whether it applied to those in East Jerusalem.

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Sure, Israeli prime ministers need to remain close to U.S. presidents, but their credibility at home also depends on remaining independent and at times defying U.S. pressure. That Trump all but accused Netanyahu of weakness if he didn’t bar the two lawmakers and the sequence of events made it seem that Netanyahu was following a presidential directive.

Israelis understand how dependent he’s become on Trump and far from making Netanyahu seem decisive in banning the representatives, he now appears weak — taking orders from Trump and flip-flopping on an initial decision to admit them.

This is bad for Israel

Aside from the apparent reversal of the decision to first admit and then bar the representatives (and then admit one), the substance of the decision puts Israel in a very bad light. Had the visit taken place, it might have stirred up publicity for few days; the banning now provides ample ammunition to give the affair legs and ensures it will live on. Israel will be portrayed as an intolerant, closed nation afraid of criticism with something to hide. Indeed, it’s striking that Rep. Omar in her tweeted reaction to the ban implicitly praised Israel as the only democracy in the region, but one that has failed to live up to that standard.

Omar, Tlaib host news conference on travel restrictions

Omar, Tlaib host news conference on travel restrictions ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan plan to host a news conference Monday afternoon on travel restrictions to Israel and Palestine, after they were denied entry into Israel last week. 

Netanyahu had a famously frosty relationship with former President Barack Obama, and Trump campaigned on a promise to restore closer ties between the U . S . and Israel . The call also marks Trump following a fairly traditional foreign policy script in his first days in office

Both President Trump and Mr. Netanyahu face politically damaging investigations, which they have both described as a “witch hunt.”CreditDoug Some observers of the two countries’ close ties have even begun asking if the tight embrace between Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu is truly a sign of the

Invariably the fact that both lawmakers are Muslim women  — the first elected to the House — will be used to attack a Jewish state biased against Muslims, not to mention the upset the decision will cause among progressive liberal Democrats already angered by Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. That major American organizations, especially American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), have criticized the decision reflects the growing rift between the Netanyahu government and many in the American Jewish community and the stressed bipartisanship that has been the bedrock of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

Does any of this matter?

It’s very unlikely that Trump will succeed in splitting Democrats: turning them into Republican voters or making Omar and Tlaib the face of the party on Israel. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has attacked the president over his tweets and came to the defense of the two lawmakers. More to the to the point, both Omar and Tlaib are not in sync with the vast majority of mainstream Democrats and use much tougher rhetoric. Indeed, their criticism — to the extent that it employs extreme rhetoric, let alone anti-Semitic symbols  — contracts the space for legitimate criticism of Israel.

Still, two disturbing trends have accelerated under the leadership of Trump and Netanyahu — the growing disaffection between many American Jews and the Netanyahu’s policies and the increasing politicization and partisanship of the Israel issue — driven by both Netanyahu and Trump that seeks to make Republicans the go-to party on Israel. Together they are eroding bipartisanship and the confluence of values and interests that have long powered the special character of the U.S.-Israeli bond. The damage to the relationship is not yet critical. But a few more years of the Trump-Netanyahu experience, and what we witnessed over the past few days, might well make it so.

The Latest: Omar calls on colleagues to visit Israel

The Latest: Omar calls on colleagues to visit Israel Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is calling on other members of Congress to visit Israel while she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib cannot. 

Still, Trump and Netanyahu charted the future course of US - Israeli relations after Trump is inaugurated. " Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution

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Aaron David Miller, a distinguished fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former State Department adviser and Middle East negotiator, is the author of "The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President." Follow him on Twitter: @aarondmiller2

What others are saying:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,statement: “As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to all its critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry of people who call and operate to boycott Israel."

Andrew McCarthy, Fox News: "While this rhetoric is abrasive in the Trumpian style, Israel’s exclusion of Omar and Tlaib makes eminent sense. Since when must a country, particularly one that daily confronts a terrorism challenge the likes of which we have never experienced, roll out the red carpet for aliens who mean it harm and encourage its enemies?"

Bari Weiss, The New York Times: "The obvious winner is Donald Trump, of course, who tweeted after Israel announced its flip- flop that 'Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!' Here, nakedly expressed, was his actual goal: Not to protect an American ally from politicians traveling in bad faith, but to yoke mainstream Democrats to their political fringe, as he has been doing, very effectively, for weeks. Joining him in the winners’ circle are Omar and Tlaib. Say Israel had allowed them, per the original plan, to visit. The upshot would have been a week of bad headlines. But Israel has gotten that tenfold anyway, and the congresswomen managed to come out looking like martyrs. The losers? Pretty much everyone else."

As Trump questions loyalty of US Jews, Israeli PM is quiet

As Trump questions loyalty of US Jews, Israeli PM is quiet Israel's prime minister on Wednesday steered clear of Donald Trump's comments questioning the loyalty of American Jews who support the Democratic Party, in sharp contrast to the tide of condemnation from Jewish critics who accused him of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes. 

Trump is inflicting long-term damage on the U . S .- Israel alliance. The United States may be able to use secondary sanctions to coerce European firms into cutting ties with Iran, but it won’t Trump is, with Netanyahu ’ s connivance, exacerbating a dangerous trend: the end of the bipartisan consensus

Tied to Trump ' s assurance is the promise to move the U . S . embassy to Jerusalem. Adding to the potential for success, both Netanyahu and Abbas are facing tough political pressure back home and have reason to stay engaged with Trump if only to maintain their relevance on the international stage.

David Rothkopf, Haaretz: "Worse though, is the idea that Israel will now be regulating entry into its country of members of the United States Congress based on their political views toward Israel. Not only is this a dangerously slippery slope, it also marks a breach in the essential ground rules for healthy relations between any two democracies. With this decision, Netanyahu compounds past errors and redoubles Israel’s commitment to a perilous course. He is trading an alliance between two nations that has flourished since the very first days of Israel’s existence — indeed, which made that existence possible — for an alliance between Israel and just one U.S. political party."

What our readers are saying:

Netanyahu is learning the art of the flip-flop from his good pal Trump.

— Bryan Gooden

From what I have seen on social media, the most rabid opponents of these congresswomen and defenders of Israel are not Jewish. AIPAC doesn't even support this. What are these people really defending?: surely not Jewish people.

William Worsham

All countries choose who they allow in and who they don't. Good for Israel on this one.

— Randy Weaks

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. I fear that Israel is becoming less democratic in this sad era where totalitarianism and authoritarianism are on the rise.

— Joe Doerger

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Netanyahu and Trump bond causes damage to U.S.-Israel ties

Israel claims responsibility for airstrikes near Damascus, claims it foiled 'large-scale attack'.
The Israeli military Saturday said it foiled a "pending large-scale attack" by Iranian forces and Shiite militia on targets in Israel with a series of airstrikes near Damascus. © Getty Images Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu during meeting with Ukrainian companies - high-tech leaders in Kyiv, Ukraine. 20-08-2019 (Photo by Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images) The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed responsibility for the airstrikes, saying it thwarted Iranian drone attacks on Israel, according to a statement.

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