Redux: Israel Criticizes U.S. Envoy Mitchell for "Threats", U.S. Senators Back Israel

Marco Villa

President Barack Obama’s President Envoy to the Middle East (and former Senator Majority Leader) George Mitchell has for months been attempting to restart peace negotiations between the occupying Israelis and the occupied Palestinians. His efforts have been blocked by an intransigent and far-right Israeli government that only recently (and belatedly and with extreme caveats) accepted that idea of a two-state solution and which has successfully resisted months of U.S. pressure to unequivocally cease all illegal settlements projects on occupied Palestinian land. With nearly a year on the job, Mitchell can claim no breakthrough, and the only thing close to a accomplishment is an Israeli commitment to “freeze” settlement construction for 10-months. But this is an empty pledge. The so-called “freeze” will not apply to occupied Arab East Jerusalem which Palestinians aspire as their future capital, and on the occupied West Bank the “freeze” will include any infrastructure Israel deems vital (schools, post offices, synagogues, ect...), a term that is so ambiguous that it can include anything construction; over 3,000 housing units in the WestBank will be allowed to continue, and at the end of the 10-month hollow grace period according to the Israeli minister minister Benny Begin colonization will resume at a rate “faster and more than before”.

Mitchell is getting frustrated too, and recently hinted that Obama may consider a cut in aid to Israel as a stick to provide an incentive for Israel to finally accept the idea of an equal Palestinian state. In interview on PBS with Charlie Ross (abridged):

CHARLIE ROSE: OK, does this make it frustrating? Do you have — you have lots of carrots. Do you have any sticks?
GEORGE MITCHELL: Cut them off, tell them you won’t help them anymore, you won’t do anything, you’ll walk away. I say, use, would you like us to do that to you? Oh, no, not to us, but you should do it to the other side.
GEORGE MITCHELL: Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel. President George W. Bush did so…
GEORGE MITCHELL: … on one occasion.
CHARLIE ROSE: And his father.
GEORGE MITCHELL: But our view is that we think the way to approach this is to try to persuade the parties what is in their self-interest. And we think that we are making some progress in that regard and we’re going to continue in that effort, and we think the way to do it is to get them into negotiations.

Mitchell did not explicitly threaten Israel with a cut in loan guarantees, but simply answered a hypothetical that the United States did have sticks at its disposal to pressure Israel to resume peace talks and that loans is one of them. But in a Washington culture where rules of discourse are dictated by the Israel lobby, Mitchell’s words were simply too much and they have had to be clarified by an intimidated Obama administration/State Department.

An American official said Saturday night that Mideast envoy George Mitchell’s remark that US aid to Israel may be jeopardized was not a threat, but a response to an interviewer’s question on the American administration’s options if Israel refused to resume peace talks with the Palestinians.

“It was not a threat and not an implied threat,” the senior official told Ynet.

In Washington, you simply can never be seen as even the least bit critical of Israel let alone seen as threatening the nation with a cut in aid/loans and its “special relationship” with the United States. If you do, the Israel lobby - which now controls the words of U.S. officials for all intents and purposes - will call the White House/State Department/Congressional Office and complain loudly and make it clear that if the offending statement is not “clarified” then they’ll be consequences. AIPAC, the main Israel lobby, will rally its troops to protest and if an elected politician to defeat the candidate if its threats are not heeded. This is how it works: You cannot say anything contrary to AIPAC propaganda. And Rahm’s comments crossed the line. Israel is the only nation that has immunity from criticism, apparently.

But even with the State Department’s retraction, the Israeli government loudly protested Mitchell’s comments:

We don’t need to use these guarantees,” Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Finance Minister, said. “We are doing just fine. But several months ago we agreed with the American Treasury on guarantees for 2010 and 2011, and there were no conditions.”

Senior members of Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party echoed the sentiment, saying in a statement that they would not be “threatened” by the US.

Despite a clarification from the White House, stating that the comment had not implied a threat but was a direct answer to the interviewer’s question, Israeli media led their evening broadcasts with the story.

The arrogance of Israeli officials and the media is breathtaking. Israel is the recipient of an annual $3billion and the nation is so spoiled by past administrations that it now has an entitlement to U.S. taxpayers money. It is incredible that they get indignant about Mitchell simply stating that loans may come with qualifications. Any nation that donates aid or extends loans has the right to stipulate qualifications, but the arrogance of Israel (in the knowledge that its powerful lobby will do its work) is such that Israel believes that it has the right to demand and then just receive. And if anyone even suggests qualifications in a hypothetical, then that constitutes threats that Israel will not accept; as if Israel has an absolute right to U.S. taxpayers money.

You think they would be grateful for U.S. aid and support, and not act in just an entitled and self-righteous manner. But Noooooooo! They are too clouded by hubris and the knowledge that U.S. politicians are too cowardly to stand in front of the Israel lobby.


Mitchell can threaten Jerusalem, but there will be others ready to defend Israel in Washington: Four senior US senators visiting Israel said Sunday that they oppose attempts to apply pressure on Israel by freezing aid. The senators, including former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, emphasized that they would not allow the US government to authorize such a proposal.

During a press conference at Jerusalem’s David Citadel Hotel, at which senators Joe Lieberman, John Thune and John Barrasso were also present, McCain said that he expects the White House to confirm soon that this is not its policy.

Lieberman said that any attempt to force Israel to the negotiations table by withholding aid would not pass in Congress. He added that he did not think it would come to this.

Of course they would say that. Lieberman is genuine Zionist while McCain was schooled by AIPAC, the Israel lobby, before heading out to Israel as all American politicians are.

And, of course, it would not pass in Congress: the U.S. is now nothing more than an elite whorehouse of Grade A prostitutes who will do anything for money from the Israel lobby.

Is anyone really surprised by pro-Israel comments made by bought U.S. politicians?

Yes, Virginia, there is an Israel lobby.




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