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 seem a good idea, many others believe it is as bad as hell for Tel Aviv.
Just as many experts and officials in Israel hold the idea concluding a defense treaty between Israel and the United States can be helpful for Israel’s security, many others believe the opposite. The opposition to concluding a defense treaty with the US is primarily based on the fear that Israel will lose its freedom of action.
The deal would also only create commitments for Israel and it would have to help the US around the world and support its global policies regarding China, Russia and Ukraine after such a deal is finalized between the two, strong commitments that may be against Israel’s approach and foreign policy.
The conclusion of a defense treaty with the United States, even if it is at its highest level like Washington’s commitment to NATO members (Article No. 5 regarding collective defense), would still mean that the United States will prevent a preemptive attack by Israel against Iran or Hezbollah.
In other words, the deal would not be considered as a factor to activate the US entry into a war which Israel is a part of. Even from Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, it appears that if America’s allies who are members of this treaty launch a preemptive attack, the United States will not defend them.
The conclusion of a defense treaty gives US the tools and possibility to put Israel under pressure to reduce the escalation of tensions and live with issues such as Iran’s nuclear program, on which the US and Israel have mostly conflicting views.
An Israel-US defense treaty, a testimony of Israel’s inability to defend itself
By raising the need to conclude a strong defense agreement with the United States, Israel would only convey the message that it does not trust its power and abilities to defend itself, and this issue firstly undermines the trust of the Arab countries for military reliance on Israel under the Abraham Accords.
It would also undermine the trust of the Israeli people in the government and its military policies. After all, Israelis pay a significant part of their income in taxes to ensure the security and military equipment of Israel.
Finally, even if it is assumed that the advantages of concluding a defense treaty between Israel and the United States are superior to its disadvantages, the question arises whether concluding such a treaty is possible at all.
In response, it should be noted that if Israel makes an official request to the US for a defense treaty, the Biden administration will certainly ask Israel for extensive concessions on the Palestinian issue, something that is not thinkable at all, especially following the events of October 7.
Even if Netanyahu’s government agrees to grant such concessions, he must silence the radical voices in his coalition government and also remain mute in the face of the US demands regarding a new nuclear deal with Iran, a red line for Tel Aviv that Netanyahu is strongly opposed to.