Expert: US Sanctions Report a Political Ploy

December 5, 2014  

A recently published report claiming that Washington is determined to condemn the Israeli government even more in the next several months for its construction in Judea-Samaria is a media ploy to sway public opinion, an expert on US-Israel relations told Arutz Sheva Friday. 

On Thursday, Haaretz reported that the US is considering sanctions against Israel over the construction, but declined to give details over the “active measures” to be taken – excluding a comment speculating that the sanctions could include a vote against Israel in the UN Security Council – nor over how reliable the reports from “insiders” are regarding those measures.  

But the report may be a political scare tactic, Professor Shmuel Sandler, expert on US-Israeli relations and member of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, stated in an interview with Arutz Sheva on Friday. 

According to Sandler, the report’s timing is intentional, an attempt by the left-leaning daily to influence public opinion ahead of elections in Israel – elections which, until recently, had indicated that the political right could make great gains in the Knesset overall.

Both Haaretz and Washington itself, he speculated, “want to say that they do not like the current government and its head. They did not hide it and perhaps they wanted to influence the public” via that report. 

The article is built on similar moves threatened by the European Union (EU) against Israel.

However, the US will do very little to harm Israel in practice, Sandler maintained – because Israel is well-appreciated in both houses of Congress, and by both political parties. 

Sandler noted that the report was published on the same day that the US Congress reaffirmed Israel as a “strategic partner,” with the House of Representatives unanimously approving the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which expands cooperation in defense and security, energy, research and development, business, agriculture, water management and academics.

The measure reflects “the sense of Congress that Israel is a major strategic partner of the United States,” and declares Washington’s “unwavering support” for Israel as a Jewish state – and is now waiting solely on President Barack Obama’s signature to be ratified into law. Obama’s refusal in this regard would not serve him politically, he added. 

“This is a political war,” Sandler said. “This will simply remain a headline.” 

Sandler added that Israel’s leadership, in light of that war, must remain vigilant to respond to US-Israel developments diplomatically and with poise. 

“[They should] not respond offhand, but think and see how to act in every political situation,” Sandler stated. “This is psychological warfare; but at the same time, to influence Congress you need to wage a war of words. It requires work.” 

Sandler’s comments follow a year replete with verbal sparring between officials from the two countries.

In the most recent snafu, comments attributed by Jeffrey Goldberg to unnamed officials in the Obama administration were made up of a series of derogatory names and insults directed at Netanyahu, including descriptions such as “chickens**t” and “aspergery.” US Secretary of State John Kerry later apologized for the comments. 

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