New US-Israel arms deal a threat to peace
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (photo: Reuters)
A new major US arms deal with Israel is intended to further enhance the Hebrew state’s ability to strike Iran, even without direct American operational involvement. The multi-billion dollar package include anti-radiation missiles designed to take out enemy air defences, new sophisticated radar for fighter jets, KC135 aerial refuelling tankers and Osprey V-22 tilt-rotor transport aircraft.
The deal, however, will not include laser-guided bunker-buster bombs, according to The New York Times.
The deal was announced this week during the visit of US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Israel. Hagel reassured Israeli officials of America’s traditional commitment to Israel’s security and to maintaining its qualitative military edge over all its neighbours.
The KC135 tankers are reportedly capable of being used in long-range operations by Israel against Iran. The sale of the V-22’s would also mark the first time the aircraft have been released to any country outside the United States. The deal will be implemented in several months.
Seeking to appease his Israeli hosts, Hagel said maintaining Israeli military superiority was a top priority for the Obama administration. “President Obama has made not only maintaining but improving Israel’s military qualitative edge a top priority,” he said.
Hagel reiterated earlier statements concerning Iran, saying that all options for dealing with that country were on the table. The American official also said his country would continue to help Israel develop the Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.
According to intelligence reports published by the Israeli media, the Iron Dome performed “much worse than expected” during last year’s brief war between Hamas and Israel. Israeli officials claimed then that the costly defence system scored an 80 per cent success rate, a claim strongly contested by the Hebrew media.
It is widely believed the continued funding by the US of further research pertaining to the anti-missile system vindicates reports about its dismal performance.
The additional military aggrandisement is expected to further enforce the arguments of those in Israel who advocate striking Iran’s nuclear facilities unilaterally, ie without cooperation and coordination with the US.
Following talks with Hagel, Israel’s War Minister Moshe Yaalon, was quoted as saying: “One way or another, Iran’s nuclear programme will be stopped.”
Yaalon is no stranger to war given his role in murdering and maiming thousands of Palestinian civilians when he was chief of staff of the Israeli army in the mid-1950s.
Hagel’s visit to Israel is the first leg of a tour that will also take him to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both Saudi Arabia and the Emirates will also sign arms deal with Washington. Washington has always sought to promote Arab-Iranian contradictions at the expense of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
According to informed Israeli sources, the weapons these two countries will purchase from Washington will be of an inferior quality in comparison to those sold to Israel. Moreover, Washington will see to it that both countries will not try to transfer these weapons to a third country, especially one hostile to Israel.
FULL-FLEDGED ALLIANCE AGAINST IRAN: It is uncertain if the highlighted American-Israeli alliance against Iran will be brought to fruition by carrying out an Israeli or joint-Israeli-American strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Some commentators in Israel contend that US reluctance to supply the Hebrew state with more strategic weapons, such the bunker-buster bombs, may indicate that the US is trying to pacify Israel, and to convince Tel Aviv to give diplomatic efforts a chance to succeed.
However, one of the main goals — if not the main goal — of the current Israeli government is “to neutralise the Iranian danger”.
Israel, which possesses a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, along with their delivery systems, doesn’t face a real existential threat from Iran. This means that the hyperbolic and often phobic language used by Israeli officials and leaders to highlight the “Iranian danger” is intended largely to maintain the Israeli state’s military supremacy and hegemony in the region.
Moreover, it is widely believed that if Iran were to be allowed to possess nuclear weapons, this would trigger a nuclear arms race involving countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. One Saudi official was quoted as saying in a press interview several months ago that “if Iran got the bomb, we would get it a few weeks afterwards.”
Thus, if this nightmarish scenario found its way to reality, Israel would then face not one Iran but many, as the possession of a nuclear deterrence by Arab countries would change the rules of the game of politics in the region to Israel’s disadvantage.
Earlier this month, the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin, said that while an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would only delay Iran’s nuclear capability, “this delay could be important because we may have a regime change”.
Yadlin added: “Israel has defined what the trigger is, what the red line is. Iran is already there.”
Nonetheless, most observers and experts doubt whether regime change in Iran would lead to a degradation let alone disappearance of the country’s nuclear programme. Other pundits argue that Iran’s nuclear programme has already reached the point of no return.
A final point: It is very likely that the new arms deal will further embolden Israel with regards to the Palestinian issue.
Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be dead within two years if action were not taken now.
“I believe the window of the two-state solution is shutting,” Kerry told the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “I think we have some period of time, a year, a year-and-a-half. Or two years, or it is over.”
Past experience has proven that the aggrandisement of Israeli military might at the expense of Arab and Muslim countries in the region makes Israel more intransigent, and much less prone to make peace.