Michael Oren's Claims That Obama Abandoned Israel Are Baseless

Any suggestion that President Barack Obama has abandoned Israel overlooks actions by previous U.S. presidents and Obama's actions in the international arena.

Amos Eran
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Former Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Michael Oren.
Former Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Michael Oren.Credit: Bloomberg
Amos Eran

Former ambassador and current MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) is publishing a book about his time representing Israel in Washington, full of details about crises in the relationship between the two countries. Oren wrote in the Wall Street Journal that President Barack Obama abandoned Israel, and violated two principles that have been the cornerstone of the special relationship between Israel and the United States. The first principle is that the two countries can disagree – just not out in the open. The second is that there must be no surprises. Oren claims that Obama violated the second principle during his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009, when he surprisingly demanded that Israel freeze settlement construction and endorse the two-state solution.

The two principles are indeed very important. But there have been many cases in which the U.S. government did not follow them, and this does not necessarily imply the abandonment of Israel. President Richard Nixon didn’t coordinate with Israel in 1969 before publishing the Rogers Plan, which called on Israel to give up the territories with minor border alterations. This greatly angered then-Prime Minister Golda Meir – but did Nixon abandon Israel? It wasn’t long after that Nixon, despite recommendations to the contrary from the Pentagon, authorized the airlift of equipment to Israel during the Yom Kippur War, making the Israeli victory possible.

When President Ronald Regan publicly criticized Israel for attacking the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and delayed a deal for fighter jets, was he abandoning Israel? President George H.W. Bush wasn’t satisfied with public criticism of settlement construction, choosing to withhold guarantees for Israel absorbing Russian immigrants in the early 1990s. Does that mean he abandoned Israel? When, later that decade, President Bill Clinton publicly declared a framework for the permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that contradicted the Israeli stance, he wasn’t abandoning Israel, either.

As for Obama – former President Shimon Peres, former Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as well as Netanyahu, said time and again that Obama fulfilled all of Israel’s security needs. Oren himself was forced to admit in his article that Obama had significantly bolstered cooperation with the Jewish state.

So, Obama must have abandoned Israel in the international arena? Actually, the Obama administration vetoed, often against its own positions, every resolution that sought to condemn Israel in the UN Security Council, and used its influence with other nations – even at the cost of isolating the United States. He did this on every international stage, whenever Israel asked.

Oren’s claim that Obama abandoned Israel, and even did so willingly, is baseless.

The writer is a former director general of the Prime Minister’s Office and served as diplomatic adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin during his first term.

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