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Washington remains subservient to Israel and its US friends

Sep 29,2021 - Last updated at Sep 29,2021

The instant approval by a vote of 420 to nine by the US House of Representatives of legislation to provide Israel with $1 billion for its Iron Dome missile defence system demonstrates, once again, that Washington remains subservient to Israel and its US friends. Democrats originally planned to put Iron Dome funding in legislation for running the US government but removed the provision after a few progressive members objected.

Democratic representative Rashida Tlaib, daughter of Palestinian immigrants, was the sole member of the House to oppose Dome funding and to argue that Palestinians needed to be protected against Israeli attack. She held that the sum was an "absurd and unjustifiable" boost to funding for the Iron Dome. She is right. This sum is not only double previous amounts but also "absurd and unjustifiable".

Israel faces fewer threats than ever. It has concluded peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan and secured recognition from the Palestine Liberation Organisation which, under Mahmoud Abbas, has renounced armed resistance and the liberation of all Palestine. Syria is embroiled in civil and proxy conflicts, while Lebanon and Iraq are in economic crisis. The Gulf emirates and Saudi Arabia have never engaged Israel on the battlefield.

While Israel tries to justify huge military expenditures by claiming that Iran seeks to destroy Israel, Iran has done nothing directly that threatens Israel while Iran's allies Hizbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza do not constitute great dangers Israel's existence. While Hizbollah is a dedicated enemy, the movement is caught up in Lebanon's collapse while Islamic Jihad can only fly balloons carrying fire lighters and shoot homemade rockets at Israel.

The US began financing Israel’s development of the Iron Dome system a decade ago and has, so far, provided about $1.6 billion for its production and maintenance. The system has been proven successful in intercepting short-range rockets fired into Israel and has protected Israelis from most of the unguided missiles manufactured by Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza.

According to the US Congressional Research Service, Iron Dome funding is part of the $3.8 billion in assistance granted to Israel on an annual basis.  The latest legislation provides double the amount requested by the super pro-Israeli Trump administration. Since Israel's establishment in 1948 through November 2020, the US provided Israel, the largest recipient of US largesse, with more than $146 billion, most in military assistance. In 2016, the US signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing Washington to $38 billion in unconditional assistance over ten years — $33 billion of that being military aid.

Having recognised Israel as soon as it was proclaimed, ex-President Harry Truman took the view that Israel had to possess the means to defend itself since the US public would not accept that US troops would fight and die for Israel.  Over the decades, his approach has been blown out of all proportion and transformed Israel into the regional hegemon able to defend itself against any and all combinations of attackers. This has made Israel both aggressive and arrogant.

By contrast, US financial assistance to the Palestinians has been grudging, contested and conditional.  Since 1950, the US has provided the UN agency caring for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, with more than $6 billion and between 2004-18 gave $5 billion to fund the Palestinian Authority, cooperation of Palestinian security forces with their Israeli counterparts, and humanitarian aid. In 2018, the Trump administration reduced the regular $365 million annual commitment to UNRWA, one-third of its budget, to $65 million and in 2019 and 2020 cancelled all but security funding as this benefitted Israel.

In April this year, the Biden administration restored portions of the aid cancelled by Donald Trump. This amounted to $75 million in aid for the West Bank, $40 million for Palestinian security forces cooperating with Israel, $150 million to UNRWA, $10 million for peacebuilding programmes, and $15 million for emergency coronavirus aid.

The US does not, however, provide direct aid to Gaza as it regards Hamas, which governs the strip, as a "terrorist" organisation, although Palestinians living there have all too often become victims of the military hardware the US government pays to US arms manufacturers to supply to Israel. If Washington were liable for reparations, less war materiel would be transferred to Israel and US citizens' tax dollars could be spent on projects benefitting them. The $1 billion proposed for Iron Dome could repair and rebuild a great many crumbling US bridges and highways.

During Israel's latest onslaught on Gaza this past May, Israel destroyed 2,200 homes and damaged 37,000 others. It is estimated that $479 million is needed to rebuild homes and infrastructure devastated during the campaign. Israeli air strikes killed 250 Palestinians, including 66 children, while 13 people, two of them children, were slain in Israel by missiles fired from Gaza.

Next week, work is set to begin on 1,800 of these homes in the first phase of a $500 million reconstruction programme financed by Qatar which has also donated $20 million to provide humanitarian support to needy families. Egypt has not only pledged to repair streets, public facilities and other infrastructure but will allow construction materials — severely limited by Israel, to enter Gaza through the Rafah passenger crossing. Israel has, apparently, agreed to transfer to Gaza cement and other construction materials under a September 2014 agreement reached after Israel's blitz on the strip between July 8th and August 26th. However, the process of getting approval for shipments of aggregate, cement and steel bars is tied up in red tape and slow and Israel prevents other essential construction equipment and material from reaching Gaza.

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