The PJ Tatler

Israel Holds Off on Joint Military Exercise with U.S. in Wake of Potential Iran Deal

IMRA picked up on this release from the Israeli Defense Forces:

The relations with the USA continue to be very tense: the editorial board of Israel Defense has learnt that Israel declined far-reaching proposals for Israeli-American defense cooperation in the context of a massive joint training exercise, designated Juniper Cobra 16, scheduled for early 2016. The exercise should include numerous cooperative activities, including the employment of an Israeli missile defense system that is based, among other things, on American capabilities.

The exercise was scheduled years ago, but over the last few weeks a paradox has emerged: the Americans are willing to cooperate with Israel in the context of the exercise in a manner unprecedented in previous exercises, but the Israeli political echelon decided that IDF will not cooperate with the American willingness. This has given rise to the absurd situation where the Americans are willing to offer us more than we want to receive.

How will this affair end? Apparently, the Israeli defense establishment and the political echelon will wait at least until the process of having the nuclear agreement endorsed by the US Congress has been completed before they put an end to this squabble.

According to the Jewish Press coverage of the report:

Last month, immediately following the signing of the Iran deal, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited Israel to discuss a security compensation package the Americans were offering. But Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon politely declined. That was the first hint the Israelis considered the White House’s betrayal too fundamental to be paved over with dollar bills.

But the seeds of rancor were sown even earlier, according to Rapaport, when, during the 2014 Protective Edge operation in Gaza, the White House decided against sending Israel urgently needed supply of arms and ammunition which were vital to the IDF because of the unexpected length of the war (it ended up lasting 51 days).

That decision was nothing short of traumatic to the Israeli defense apparatus, states Rapaport, and that wound is yet to heal, even a year later.

One of the immediate results of that American military embargo (which extended to the UK, as well) was an Israeli decision to keep its ammunition production in local Israeli manufacturing plants, even when it is a project involving cooperation with the US, to prevent such an embargo from ever happening again.

In other words, the decision rendered by Congress regarding this Iran deal won’t just impact America’s security. It may just become the defining moment in the U.S.-Israel relationship.