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The One Move Trump Should Make to Actually Defend Israel

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Between salvos of Hamas rockets, Netanyahu shenanigans and Trump’s antics, you may have missed the really big news, an issue which will have lasting effects on the U.S.- Israel relationship: are the two states now nearer than ever to signing a defense treaty?

Days before Israel’s (inconclusive) second round of elections in September, President Donald Trump helpfully declared he was discussing the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an act that would "further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries." Lindsey Graham, the influential senator close to Trump, is working to promote the idea.

I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance....

Netanyahu is continuing his efforts towards more substantial progress on a treaty, reportedly with the support of the IDF chief of staff. He stated the treaty would be a key issue on the agenda of talks with U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo in Lisbon this week.

When asked ‘why the rush’ to meet @SecPompeo, @netanyahu mentioned Iran, a defense treaty between Israel/U.S. and the Israeli annexation of the #JordanValley pic.twitter.com/rea3p9XcqH

Opposition leader (and former IDF chief) Benny Gantz announced in no uncertain terms this week that he dissented: any such treaty would "limit Israel’s actions and the IDF’s ability to protect the country from the threats it faces." He added that a treaty was inherently "opposed to the position expressed by [Israel’s] security establishment for decades."

Gantz is correct that the majority of Israel’s defense establishment has opposed the idea of a U.S. defense treaty – but that opposition has never been unanimous. It is a long-standing issue which both now, and over the years, has attracted articulate supporters and opponents.

Netanyahu’s renewed involvement undoubtedly reflects a further attempt to exploit every possible avenue that would save him from incarceration, but the strategic justification is real and worthy of careful consideration.

My belief is that a defense treaty with the U.S. is of vital strategic importance for Israel, and it should be concluded as soon as possible. This is why.

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Fifty nations, including 28 NATO members, have defense treaties with the United States; the last such treaty, with Japan, was signed in 1961. Ever since that time, and especially with the end of the Cold........

© Haaretz