The US elections and Israel

Dr. Norman Bailey

Israelis are anxious about the future of the US's pro-Israel stance, but a US president's foreign policy is largely unfettered by Congress.

The disgusting and drawn-out character assassination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has been followed by the announcement of US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that she will be retiring after the end of the year.

These events have reinforced Israeli anxiety about what the congressional elections in November might signify for US-Israeli relations, particularly if the Democrats should take control of one or both of the houses of Congress.

There is no doubt that in such a case President Trump will be seriously hampered in trying to carry out his domestic programs. However, the US president has much more flexibility in the foreign policy area, with or without the cooperation of Congress. Witness the "deal" the Obama administration reached along with five other countries with Iran in 2016. This "deal" was not signed and was specifically characterized as neither a treaty nor an executive agreement, both of which would have required congressional involvement.

In fact, following the announcement of the "deal" the Senate did vote, narrowly approving it, but the administration made it abundantly clear that it would honor it no matter what Congress did or did not do.

All of which made it possible without congressional involvement for the Trump administration to withdraw from the "deal". It has also withdrawn from the TPP negotiations in the Pacific rim region and forced renegotiation of the NAFTA free trade area. Other measures and approaches have been made with reference to relations with North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, NATO, the European Union and other countries and blocs, all without any form of prior or post congressional action of any kind.

All of which is to say that there is reason to believe that the Trump administration's attitude towards relations with Israel will not change no matter what happens in the midterm elections. About the most an anti-Israel, Democrat-dominated Congress could do would be to hold hearings and pass non-binding resolutions, and there is no indication whatever that such actions would have any effect of the administration's policies.

The Trump administration will remain pro-Israel unless the president decides it is in the interests of the country to change that policy, and the Congress be damned.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 14, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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