More than a dozen US senators are supporting an amendment quietly added to this year’s defense bill that some say could endanger Israel now and in the future.
Some see it as an attempt to interfere with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to declare Israeli sovereignty over parts of biblical Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.
The bill would affect weaponry such as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. It is literally a lifesaver against terror attacks by groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
This amendment, introduced by Senate Democrat Chris Van Hollen, could conceivably prevent the deployment of this joint US/Israel defense system to protect areas of the West Bank or Jordan Valley.
The amendment states no US funds may “… support the deployment of, United States defense articles, services, or training to territories in the West Bank unilaterally annexed by Israel after July 1, 2020, or to facilitate the unilateral annexation of such territories.”
Israel’s former Congressional liaison, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, argues this move could have a negative impact beyond the West Bank while also undermining Israel and the US.
“The Van Hollen amendment is an example of American legislators who cut off their nose to spite their own face, maybe the face of America’s own interest,” Ettinger told CBN News.
“Such a proposal reflects a total disconnect by those senators from Middle Eastern reality. When Israel and Jordan concluded the peace treaty in October of 1994, the top Jordanian military commanders …told their Israeli colleagues, a Palestinian state, west of the Jordan River, would doom the pro-American Hashemite regime east of the Jordan River,” Ettinger said.
Others argue the amendment contradicts President Obama’s 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel that allowed Israel to defend itself by itself.
Netanyahu had hoped to announce annexation over 30 percent of Judea and Samaria – the West Bank – on July 1st. But a combination of White House indecision and a rebound of COVID-19 delayed that decision.
Annexation is a proposal opposed by senators like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
“Those American senators would do well for their own American interest. Israel in the West Bank has become a very potent element of deterrence in the face of Iran’s ayatollahs,” Ettinger said.
Ettinger doesn’t view the Van Hollen amendment as an anomaly. On the contrary, he sees it as more evidence of an ideological shift in America.
“Certainly, that transformation of the American society has also afflicted Capitol Hill as well the House of Representatives and the Senate. The secret, so to speak, of the very unique bond between the US and Israel has rested on the Judeo-Christian roots of both the US and Israel,” Ettinger said.
“A departure from Judeo-Christian roots, a departure by America from those roots, would also mean (a) departure from very special US-Israel relations, which would not bode well for either the US or Israel,” he said.