U.S. hold on arms to Israel rewards Hamas

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The Obama administration places a hold on an arms shipment to Israel. This after it refused to send weapons to Ukraine to fight Russia-backed separatists. And after the White House rejected arming moderate rebels in Syria, which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says led to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorizing Iraq.

President Barack Obama’s stance against new U.S. military ventures seems to extend to a reluctance to providing new weapons aid to allies. A big exception: military aid to Kurds when it appeared their capital in northern Iraq might fall to ISIS. Conquest of the Kurds, a U.S. ally, would be a disaster for American prestige.

Yet, the sudden hold on transfers to Israel of Hellfire missiles used to strike Hamas rocket launchers in the Gaza Strip could be just as damaging to America’s credibility if it leaves the impression, as it surely will in many places, that U.S. support for its best ally in the Middle East is weak.

Support for Israel remains strong in Congress, and Obama did sign legislation for new funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Still, the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz calls the new weapons hold a “crisis between the new countries.” Editor David Horowitz of the middle-of-the-road Times of Israel wonders whether “the non-delivered Hellfires [is] a procedural delay or the beginning of an embargo?” And whether the relationship between Obama and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “ruptured or just very heavily strained?”

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