President Trump has just done a great favor to Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu. In turn, Trump Netanyahu should now say that if Trump now refuses to support an upcoming US peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he will withhold part of Israel's $ 3.3 billion in aid next year.
It's a big threat. However, the consequences are huge and Trump's favor for Netanyahu is already great.
With the Netanyahu talks and a White House dinner next week, Trump is giving the Israeli Prime Minister a big boost only two weeks ahead of Israel's parliamentary elections on April 9. The elections between the Netanyahu are closely coalition and its main opposition, Trump's favor could even bring Netanyahu back to power.
Why is Trump's threat to Israeli aid so important?
Well, because Netanyahu is taking more extreme anti-peace deal positions during the election campaign. And these positions make Trump's peace plan ever more likely if Netanyahu is immediately dismissed if he is re-elected. This is in contrast to Netanyahu's election opponents, who are inclined to support US peace efforts.
However, the pro-forma rejection of the Netanyahu peace plan would be intolerable to US interests. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major driver of populist anti-Americanism in the Islamic world and a marginal driver of anti-American Islamic terrorism. This makes conflict resolution an important priority for US, Israeli, Jordanian and Sunnis national security institutions. I personally believe that Netanyahu recognizes so much.
But Netanyahu must be forced to realize Trump's support for reciprocity expectations, and Netanyahu's interest in joining the electoral cabinet hardliners in support of Trump's peace efforts. Risks to Israeli security could be mitigated in the short term: Israel's significant economic and military power allows for potential forces that can ward off and defeat all threats.
The peace agreement can not go anywhere. And, of course, Trump must also initiate similar cost-benefit measures to the Palestinian Authority. (Hamas, which continues to rule Gaza as a dystopia of bribery, violence, and wasted opportunities, should be isolated and ignored.)
Now, however, Netanyahu needs to know that he can not have his American pie while rejecting the US peace plan can. Assuming that the US Peace Plan is practical and fair, it must receive serious consideration from the Israelis. Trump's threat is now justified and appropriate.