In the midst of this current era of hyper-partisanship, there have traditionally been few areas that can bring Republicans and Democrats together like U.S. support for Israel. We demonstrated that fact once again when last Wednesday, I joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), among others, in introducing bipartisan legislation condemning the passage of an anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations Security Council. Similar bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives last week.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to send a message to the Obama administration, Israel, and the rest of the world: we will not waiver in our commitment to Israel.
President Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, was just plain wrong in his claims that United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 would act to preserve and promote the possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Rather, the one-sided resolution – which focused almost entirely on Israel’s settlement activity – will only make direct, bilateral negotiations toward a peaceful resolution more difficult.
It is unfortunate that despite President Obama’s 2011 statement before the United Nations General Assembly that “peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations,” one of his administration’s last actions at the United Nations was to support such a harmful resolution and undermine our ally, Israel.
After eight years of strained relations under President Obama, the United States must recommit to Israel. This includes continuing to strongly support Israel’s security. We recently saw another example of the constant threat Israel faces, when a Palestinian driver intentionally drove a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four and wounding several others. The increasing threat of terrorism, coupled with the rise of Iran, exemplify why we must not waiver in our support for Israel.
The misguided nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration has filled Iran’s pockets with money they could then turn and use to threaten Israel. Meanwhile, Iran continues to develop its missile capabilities. Just last week, Iranian military leadership alarmingly stated that “Iran is now capable of designing and producing any needed missiles and aircraft.”
Particularly in light of the increasing capabilities of Iran, we must ensure Israel has the ability to defend itself. I was pleased to see the first delivery of the next generation of U.S. aircraft head to Israel last month. It is steps like this that we must continue to take to support our friend.
The incoming administration is aware of these threats and the needed steps forward. I am encouraged by their strong commitment to Israel, and I am specifically hopeful they will work with Congress to increase and strengthen our military-to-military alliance.
While great cooperation between our militaries already exists, we stand to benefit from a stronger partnership between our forces. As the former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, Admiral James Stavridis, points out, our special operations forces have much to garner from an increased relationship with Israel. We also have much to learn from them in the areas of cybersecurity and border security.
As we start the new Congress, I look forward to working with my colleagues—Republicans and Democrats—to ensure these steps are taken. The introduction of our bipartisan legislation last week condemning the passage of an anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations Security Council was just the start. And very soon, we will have a strong partner in the White House, who I am hopeful will stand with us in our efforts to strengthen America’s special bond with Israel.
Joni Ernst represents Iowa in the United States Senate.