The White House will not cut aid to Israel or stop cooperation overnight, but the day America treats Israel like any other country is nearer than we think.

by Meron Rapoport, +972 Magazine

Writing in Haaretz last week, Israeli security journalist Amos Harel reported that, at least in practice, the United States and Iran already have an unwritten agreement regarding the latter’s nuclear question. According to him, Iran will freeze its uranium enrichment, and in return the United States will allow the release of billions of dollars in Iranian assets across several countries, after the money was frozen as part of American sanctions. Israel, wrote Harel, has a fundamental role to play in the deal: do not disturb.

This short instruction — which we have heard often from reports about Washington’s relations with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries — might help explain a recent column by New York Times commentator Thomas Friedman, in which he claims that the White House has begun to “reassess” its relations with Israel. Days after the column was published, and after Biden met with President Isaac Herzog, Biden summoned the journalist to the White House and told him that the Netanyahu government’s plans for judicial overhaul could irreparably damage the countries’ “special relationship.”

President Joe Biden visit to Israel March 2016 Meet with PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Those who have become accustomed to headlines about the “strategic alliance” between Israel and the United States, and that Israel is the U.S.’s most important ally in the Middle East (if not the world) should, at least ostensibly, be puzzled by Friedman’s recent columns. If this alliance is so important to the U.S. government, how is it willing to reconsider it over the judicial overhaul? Or is it possible that Israel is not at all a strategic asset, but rather the exact opposite: a burden that must be kept at bay so as not interfere with American strategic moves in the region?

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