Home inSight Unconscionable US Interference in Israel’s War

Unconscionable US Interference in Israel’s War

Lawrence A. Franklin
The President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, greets US President Joe Biden at Ben Gurion Airport, Israel on July 13, 2022. (Photo: Haim Zach / Israeli Government Press Office)

The open split been between the Biden Administration and the Israeli government as to how Israel should conduct its war against the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza has become a gut wrenching policy dispute while the wartime goal to expunge Hamas is still ongoing.

Prime Minister (PM) Benyamin Netanyahu’s recent public statement “Israel is not a vassal state of the United States,” is evidence of how both pungent and exasperating policy and personal divergence has become.

American President Joe Biden has taken the bold step of dispatching cabinet level interlocutors to Israel to seek separate and private talks with political rivals of Netanyahu. These attempted cabals border on a US strategy to encourage a political coup against the PM who leads the current national unity government in Israel.  Biden who recently sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his fifth trip to Israel since the onset of the latest round of ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, had authorized Blinken to seek private a meetings with the PM’s political opponents such as Minister of Defense Galant. Netanyahu’s Likud Party allies in the cabinet blocked any such meeting unless trusted aides of the PM were in attendance.

Blinken’s opposition to the Israeli PM may have been more muted than the mid-March blatant call for Netanyahu’s ouster by US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY), a Biden ally. However, it is nonetheless a startling interference in Israeli’s War Cabinet’s decision-making. Moreover, it oversteps the bounds of sovereignty even by the closest of allies.

Startling Interference

The administration is under pressure from the Democratic Party’s left wing, which is decidedly anti-Israel, but whose support Biden requires to be elected to a second four term in November. Parenthetically, Biden has called for a ceasefire and announced his opposition to an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) ground offensive in Rafah, for fear that many civilian casualties would ensue.

The administration also is conditioning US military assistance to Israel unless its demands are accepted. However, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, fed up with Biden’s “slow-walking” of an already funded weapons package, has insisted on immediate delivery of all weapons and ordinance previously approved, including tunnel-busting US bombs.

State Department and Pentagon officials are directly interfering in Israeli War Cabinet debates. This US inveigling has encouraged former IDF Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and acting Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant to openly criticize the PM’s alleged lack of policy planning on how Gaza would be governed once Hamas is eradicated. Gantz, long a political adversary of Netanyahu has threatened to resign from the National Unity Israeli Government unless the PM makes public a plan for post-war administration of Gaza.

If Gantz resigns, it is likely that his protégé Herzi Halevi, Chief of the General Staff, will also leave, further feeding chaos at the top level of leadership during a war.

Israel’s Plans

The Israeli government had already agreed to US insistence that the IDF implement changes to guarantee that a substantial increase of food and medical aid will reach Gaza’s civilian population. However, the IDF appears determined to obliterate the remaining Hamas battalions in the Rafah region as pledged by Netanyahu, This weekend, Halevi announced the discovery of approximately 700 large tunnels, some of which extend into Egyptian territory. This Israel proffers as proof why the war must continue so that Hamas will be unable to play any role in a future Gaza government.

The ongoing policy differences between the US and Israel also surfaced following Iran’s 13 April attack on Israel, The Iranian assault was in response to Jerusalem’s targeted killing of Iranian Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) generals at an Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus Syria. Israeli and allied air defense systems – including in Jordan and Saudi Arabia – destroyed and/or disabled nearly 100% of the more than 300 missiles and drones launched by Iran. Biden, warning of the risk of a “wider war,” counseled Netanyahu to take the failure of the Iranian attack as “a win” and not respond against the Islamic Republic. Israel largely complied but nevertheless sent a message to Iran’s terrorist regime by destroying an advanced, Russian-provided S-300 Air Defense system. The message was clear to Teheran, that its nuclear sites are vulnerable to an Israeli strike.


The current US administration’s meddling in our Israeli ally’s wartime decision-making is not without precedent. During the 1990-91 Gulf War, when the United Nations General Assembly authorized coalition forces to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s occupation, President George H. W. Bush applied enormous and daily pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to refrain from responding to Iraq’s SCUD missile attacks on Israeli territory.

US General Norman Schwartzkopf, Commander of Coalition Forces, promised Shamir to initiate “SCUD Hunt” which was only partially successful. A total of 42 Iraqi SCUDs landed in Israel.  Ironically and tragically, the last SCUD fired by Iraq occurred on the last day of the Gulf War, killing 39 US servicemen in a barracks encampment in Saudi Arabia.

The excuse that US Secretary of State JamesA.  Baker gave Shamir was that the grand coalition of anti-Iraq forces would dissolve, losing Arab state support if Israel retaliated. In retrospect, this US counsel was a self-serving canard, The Bush 41 Administration, in league with the Arab Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia, had already agreed to a post-war deployment of US troops on Saudi territory. Riyadh was a good deal more motivated by fear of Saddam than by any hostility toward Israel because of the Palestinian issue.

Today’s American pressure on Israel to restrain itself in conflict with its enemies is reflective of past US interference, which is deleterious to the interests of both America and its Israeli ally. US officials have also made it clear to Israel, that it wants advance knowledge of any future strikes on Iranian targets. Since notification would give US policymakers an opportunity to dissuade Israel from executing such strikes, Israeli leaders are not likely to provide American policymakers with the requested warning.

Col. (ret) Lawrence A. Franklin, Ph.D., served as Iran Desk Officer for the Department of Defense, and served on active duty with the U.S. Army and the Air Force Reserve.