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10 March 2015


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"There is no treaty because the Israelis have always rejected the notion, preferring their "independence."

That is a polite way of putting it.

In a defence treaty the US would commit to defend Israeli territory in case of attack. Israel's problem with that is the 'territory' part, and the attack part.

As for attack:
Does violent Palestinian resistance against occupation and expropriation qualify as an attack? Some stray rocket or mortar round? Does it need to be a barrage? Does it need to be men or vehicles crossing the border? Does it need to be an attack by state actors or non-State actors?

And as for territory:
Israel would have to clarify their territory and their borders if they did that. They rather avoid doing that if they possibly can. They don't want anybody to look too closely.

If Israel entered into a defence treaty with the US they'd have to clarify what their borders are that the US is to defend, and open a can of worms. They rather don't want that.

And indeed, the question of borders becomes messy very quickly in the case of Israel:

Would the US defend the 1948 borders? The 1967 borders? The 1973 borders? King David's borders?

And what about the Golan Heights? Say someone shoots at the ski resort or the vinyards that Israel (illegally) built there? Would that trigger the defence treaty? And what about the Sheeba farms? Just like the Golan, they are part of Syria.

What if someone attacks an Israeli in East Jerusalem? Or in some (illegal) ettlement in the West Bank? If a Palestinian shoots a rocket from the Westbank into an (illegal) Israeli Westbank settlement i.e. town? Would that trigger the treaty obligation, or does it take place outside of Israel? etc. pp.

None of that is Israeli territory under international law.

But with guys like the 47 monkeys around, the Izzies get something rather close to a defence treaty anyway, and more land and freedom of action to boot. Besides, as far as the forcible and illegal acquisition of land is concerned the Izzies aren't done yet.

So, what's not to like from Bibi's POV about the status quo?


What I cannot sort out is whether they are directly subservient (they really believe), or if this is all secondary to the need to keep the (religious) base happy.

Larry Kart

I would say their bloodymindedness (perhaps better their opportunistic or for the nonce bloodymindedness) rather than their subservience to a foreign leader and state. I don't believe that anyone over in that neck of woods -- other than certain sorts of evangelicals who anticipate/look forward to a vision of Armageddon in which the fate of Israel plays a key role -- are moved by any strong positive feelings toward Israel and/or the Jews. Nor do I think they are significantly affected by AIPAC-type pressure or Jewish contributions to their campaign coffers or the shmoozing of Jewish supporters among their constituents. These guys don't particularly like or need Israel or the Jews; the "marriage" on their side (evangelicals perhaps excepted) is merely one of calculated and arguably cynical passing convenience. And as sincere as the Evangelicals might be by contrast, should their vision of the fate Israel come to pass, there would be no more Israel and no more Jews.

alba etie

I am trying to find the silver lining to this obvious toxic death grip AIPAC et al has on the right wing red hots in the Senate. It now appears very likely that foreign policy generally & the Iran Nuclear Deal vs BiBi's Bombs Away on Nantanz alternative will be front and center in this year's Presidential Election campigns and debates.Moreover , Mrs Clinton if she decides to run will have to defend the Nuclear Deal with Iran if it gets signed . My own personal best guess is Mrs Clinton is not running which could set the stage for Sen. Jim Webb to have a shot at the nomination.And from what I have gathered about him - Former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb if he became President would be adamantly against a premptive strike on Iran . In any event I think Bibi and the Red Hots have seriously 'mis-underesitmated " how wrong headed and out of step their " War with Iran" policy solution is with the majority of the voters in These United States. We shall see.

Medicine Man

Calling it treason seems hyperbolic to me. I am heartened to see the outrage though.

Margaret Steinfels

If the Daily News has that headline, this could get serious.

Brien J MIller

There is always the Logan Act:


Perhaps the monkeys should have contemplated it first.


granted it's a tabloid; but the ny daily news is owned by mort zuckerman (although he's currently trying to unload it) and is a staunch supporter of all things israel. expect to see a new editor announcement in the coming days...

this via vox re a lawfareblog post by jack goldsmith yesterday -- that is now curiously offline (perhaps blown up by traffic to the site?):

Critics of the letter have also gleefully shared this blog post, by Harvard constitutional law scholar and former Bush-administration lawyer Jack Goldsmith, pointing out that Cotton's letter explaining the Constitution actually got part of the Constitution wrong. The error was pretty minor: Cotton said that the Senate ratifies treaties, when technically the Senate votes to "gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification." Goldsmith conceded it was a "technical point," but it's never ideal to have a Bush administration legal heavyweight write, "in a letter purporting to teach a constitutional lesson, the error is embarrassing."




Israel has been unwilling to declare in a treaty what US interests it would be willing to defend. pl

Allen Thomson

Wikipedia helpfully provides the text of the 1799 Logan Act, which looks like it might apply now:

Text of the Logan Act

§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

1 Stat. 613, January 30, 1799, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953 (2004).

different clue


A very minor little side-point occurs to me. International Law recognizes Shebaa Farms as being part of Syria. Hezbollah claims to pretend to believe that Shebaa Farms is part of Lebanon. This Israeli "occupation" of "Lebanon" is what Hezbollah cites to say it is "resisting" Israeli
"occupation" of Lebanon.

I remember a couple years ago or so that I offered a suggestion here that Israel quietly stealth-deoccuppy Shebaa Farms in the dead of night leaving both Syria and Lebanon to discover that Shebaa Farms has been thrown open for re-unification with the homeland. Then let Hezbollah and Syria decide between themselves which homeland Shebaa Farms gets reunified with.

different clue

They are also motivated by incredibly deep personal spitred towards Obama himself.

different clue

alba etie,

It would give Webb something clear and definite to run on. And he would have military service credibility in a fashion somewhat analogous to the military service credibility that Rabin had on the Israeli scene which allowed Rabin to pursue a serious peace-road towards a peace-endpoint ( for which certain Likudist and security "elements" engineered his assassination).

If Webb became the DemParty nominee, and say for example Dickie-poo Cheney crawled up out of his urinal to accuse Webb of something-or-other, Webb could straight-facedly ask: " where were you when I was in Vietnam, Mr. Five-Deferment Dick?"
Not that he necessarily would. Perhaps he is too nice a guy, I don't know. But he uniquely could, if he chose to, in that scenario.


Also, from that article you link to, final paragraph:

"And the tone of Zarif's official response, an act of diplomatic trolling, is, depending on your point of view, either hugely insulting or hilarious (or maybe both). He wrote, for example, "it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy."

alba etie

different clue
If HRC does not run - it could be awide open fieled for the Democratic nomination . Is it true Sen Rand Paul was one of the forty seven Senators that cosigned the letter to Iran ? If that is true I will have to reevaluate my thinking on voting for Paul in the Republican Primary ...

Swami Bhut Jolokia

If I was advising the negotiators, I would suggest concluding an executive agreement to run for the duration of Mr Obama's presidency, and concurrently a treaty to be presented to the Senate for 'advice and consent' some time in the middle of election season next year, perhaps after the nominees of both parties have been selected. The treaty would include the lifting of all sanctions permanently.

That would set up a clear distinction between the presidential candidates (and lower office candidates as well), and perhaps one of them would commit to extend the executive agreement if elected. The hope is then that there will be enough integration of trade and investment (as PL suggests) that unwinding it would be quite painful to US interests. It will also give all a chance to observe Iran's compliance with the terms of the agreement. If the treaty goes down in the Senate, and the winning candidate does not extend the executive agreement, we're screwed any way.

The Iranians are savvy enough to know it would be foolhardy for Mr Obama to proceed with presenting a treaty to the Senate right now, so one imagines they would be amenable to such an approach. Even though they want a measure of certainty (who doesn't?) they are pragmatic enough to take what's achievable now.

Charles I

Then sort out those who believe in supporting Israel as the right thing to do, and those who see such support as the means to The End.

Charles I

Capital Hill.

Charles I

Please, Senators and their ilk are not mere citizens.

And who or what is the repository and manifestation of the "authority of the United States"?

The Beaver

Alba etie

FYI: The list of the 47 Traitors


Swami Bhut Jolokia

Allen, applying the Logan Act sounds good in theory but it would be politically impossible in practice to bring charges against sitting Senators. In the event such charges were brought against them, they would claim that the letter was equivalent to 'speech on the floor' and therefore covered by legislative immunity.


Col: If Iran develops good relations with the USA, then they will at least have to be non-hostile to Israel. Hence, Israel's "fear" about America warming up to Iran is not about security, but about priority. Iran is a much more important country than Israel.

Swami Bhut Jolokia

Yes. How dare we expect some measure of reciprocity in a treaty!


Iran offers to mediate talks between Republicans and Obama. - Borowitz



What, Israel is supposed to give the US something in return??!

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