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US veto for sale

By JAMAL KANJ* , 

August 02, 2012

http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/section.aspx?Sn=COMM

Pre-empting Mitt Romney's campaign visit to Israel, President Barack Obama last Friday signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Co-operation Act of 2012.

The bill was drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and co-sponsored by Israeli firsters Barbara Boxer and Howard Berman, of the US Senate and House respectively.

The omnipresence of Israeli lobbyists at the signing of the "rare bipartisan" bill provided a perfect background display of the foreign lobby's power in the US.

President Obama used five pens to sign the Act as he was flanked by the two legislators and three Israeli lobbyists: AIPAC chairman Lee Rosenberg, former chairman Howard Friedman and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations chairman Richard Stone.

Following the signing and upstaging of Romney in Jerusalem, National Jewish Democratic Council president and chief executive David Harris boasted: "With today's signing, there should be no doubt that this pro-Israel president stands squarely behind Israel."

While gridlocked for months on a jobs bill for unemployed Americans, Congress "suspended the rules" to pass the AIPAC-inspired measure with peerless bipartisanship and co-operation.

At a time when the US is experiencing its worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, Congress dropped its debate rules to expedite additional financial, political and military commitments to Israel, including extending a bank loan guarantee for $9 billion and making available for free to the Israeli military "excess defence articles", following the US withdrawal from Iraq.

Republican House Majority leader Eric Cantor acknowledged the support came despite difficult economic times.

"When we are facing huge fiscal challenges, this bill makes it clear that no matter what, the US always stands strong in our support for Israel," he said.

From the other side of the aisle, Democratic whip Steny Hoyer applauded Congress' united position on supporting Israel "while we may divide on other matters".

Strangely, Section 3, Article 1 of the Act might even contravene the first amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits Congress from making "law respecting an establishment of religion".

That's because the bill calls on "the US to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security of the... Jewish state".

Disregarding US intelligence community concerns, the bill directs government agencies to strengthen co-operation with Israel on espionage, "including satellite intelligence, high technology".

Ironically, on Saturday, the Associated Press reported that former CIA officials warned the "CIA considers Israel to be Mideast's biggest spy threat".

Israel was the only US ally caught a myriad of times spying on the US and/or sharing intelligence information with US enemies.

But possibly the most alarming part of the bill was the way it essentially hands the US veto at the UN Security Council to Israel.

Section 3, Article 3 of the bill calls on the US to make its policy to veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the council.

This will mean that any council resolution not approved by Israel will be regarded as one-sided, obliging the US to reject it.

In effect, the bill grants Israel a new vicarious authority at council meetings.

The foreign lobby-sponsored act is making farce of the veto powers, as the legislative and executive branches of the world's foremost superpower blatantly barter its authority at the council in exchange for pro-Israeli money and votes.

*Jamal Kanj writes frequently on Arab issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. His email address is jkanj@yahoo.com.