Ever since the Suez business showed them where the real power in the post war world lied, the Israelis have been allies of the USA. For a while, they were the US’ only allies in the immediate area. But when Veep Joe Biden visited the country last week, it was not a totally happy tour.
Because, as Biden made his visit, the Israeli Government announced plans to extend settlements in East Jerusalem, on disputed land. Israeli PM Binyamin Netenyahu later admitted that the timing was unfortunate, although the idea that the story got out without his knowledge is not credible.
And Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, has asserted that relations between the two countries are at their lowest ebb for 35 years. It is believed that the US has pressed Israel to stop the project, but Netenyahu for one is strongly supportive of further settlements in East Jerusalem: he differentiates between that area and the wider West Bank.
What will come next? Israel depends on the US for a variety of things, not least military hardware and aid that recently was equivalent, annually, to around a thousand dollars for every Israeli citizen. It is unlikely that such generous assistance would be available from anyone else, so Netenyahu and his Government could be playing an ultimately futile game.
Meanwhile, the pro-Israel lobby has weighed in against the Obama administration.