Concluding a defense treaty with US like the one Washington has with NATO member states is what Israel has long been looking for. But contrary to many Israeli officials who think a defense treaty with US might seems to be a good idea, many others believe it is as bad as hell for Tel Aviv.
After the surprise and unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7 and the many criticisms that followed targeting Israel’s intelligence, security and military apparatus, many experts and Israeli officials are now talking about the necessity of concluding a defense treaty between Israel and the United States. They believe that if there was such a defense agreement between Tel Aviv and Washington, Hamas and its supporter, Iran, would have never had the courage to carry out such a large and deadly attack against Israel.
For example, The National Interest wrote in an editorial on November 24, that “Israel should resume talks on concluding a mutual defense treaty with the United States. If such a treaty is already in place, it could have served as a strong deterrent treaty against Iran and Hamas, and the October 7 attack would never have happened.”
Some Israeli think tanks, such as the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, have also emphasized the need to establish such a treaty between Israel and the United States, and have considered now to be the best time to act in this regard;
“President Biden’s strong support for Israel, in contrast to some of the staunchest opponents of the Netanyahu administration in his own party and even some Democratic critics (such as former President Barack Obama), as well as the support of the US Congress when the majority of the Senate is with the Republicans, all indicate that now is the best time to establish such a defense treaty,” it said.
What are the benefits of a US-Israel defense treaty?
Reports of a US-Israeli defense treaty have surfaced many times in the past, most recently in 2019, when Israel was in the midst of a prime ministerial election by candidates, most notably Benjamin Netanyahu.
Supporters of such a deal believe that it would be similar to the North Atlantic Treaty or NATO, and would give Israel the advantage that if attacked, the US would go to war in Israel’s favor, and this is exactly similar to the commitment that Washington has made to NATO members since 1949.
They also hold the idea that this treaty would send a clear message that the US is a full supporter of Israel and that harming or attacking Israel is considered an act of war against the US. Therefore, it can increase Israel’s deterrence and freedom of action against Iran, Russia and China.
In addition, signing a defense treaty with the United States can also improve the relations between Washington and Tel Aviv for years to come and end the recent talks about the strained relations between these two long-time allies.
Proponents of the treaty also believe that since such an agreement would be approved by Congress, it would also eliminate the need to re-approve the agreement arrangements between the two every year.
They further say that signing such an agreement would also guarantee the existence of Israel. Looking at the history of the NATO treaty, one can understand that none of the NATO members has ever been subjected to any military attack for more than seventy years.
Last but not least, supporters of a US-Israel defense pact think that such a treaty would create a new regional security architecture led by the US in the Middle East and it would also strengthen and accelerate the normalization process with the Arab countries, because such an agreement would promote this belief among the Arab countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia, that it is possible to finally convince the US to give solid defense guarantees.