What Trump’s Inaugural Address “America First” Means For Israel

By Gideon

“America First” is a good policy for Israel. The two countries are close allies. What is good for one generally also good for the other. However, there are some instances when what is good for one may be at the expense of the other.

It is no secret that Israel signed a massive military aid deal of $38B over 10 years last September, when President Obama was still in office, to avoid tougher negotiations with a more financially conservative Trump administration, should Trump be elected. The deal, the largest such agreement the U.S. has ever had with any country, amounts to $3.8 billion a year beginning in budget year 2019, compared with $3.1 billion the U.S. gave Israel annually under the current 10-year deal that expires in 2018.

At the time Israeli critics and politicians criticized the agreement, feeling that a better deal could have been signed with the more Israeli friendly, President Trump, if elected.

I doubt that: 

In his inaugural speech today, President Trump was very explicit. He said that other nations enjoyed prosperity at the expense of America and that he is going to put a stop to that. He said that while Americans became poorer, people in other countries became richer because of major American donations to these countries. 

Israel and America have special relations. All indications are that Trump will strengthen the relationships between the two countries. However, President Trump who has plans to reduce taxes and at the same time to initiate major public projects in America, will have difficulties promising so much money to Israel when he is trying to balance the budget at home. “America First” means spending American dollars in America.

Trump criticized American politicians, who according to him, do not know how to negotiate and are being taken advantage of. It is possible that the military aid deal with Israel would have been structured completely different if he negotiated it.  Israel’s essential needs would have still been met. However, America would have been sending Israel more military equipment and less  cash, something that would have strengthened the American defense industry and weakened the Israeli defense industry. It is too early to know if president Trump is going to re-negotiate the signed agreement. It is probably not high on his priorities list, considering the strong support for Israel in the congress, and other more urgent priorities on his agenda, such as repealing and replacing Obamacare. 

The “America First” policy will help Israel in the United Nations. Trump has stated that he does not see returns on the investment that America is making in the UN. America is paying each year approximately $8 billion in mandatory payments and voluntary contributions to the United Nations and its affiliated organizations. The biggest portion of this money – about $3 billion this year – goes to the U.N.’s regular and peacekeeping budgets. However, both America and Israel are routinely on the losing side in the UN. It is unlikely that the Trump administration will continue to pump money into an organisation that is hostile toward the US and Israel. A fast change in attitude by the UN is likely to be the result of Trump’s threat to stop funding this organization.

 “America First” also means strengthening America’s military. The American military and the Israeli defense forces are working closely together. Strengthening the American military will help Israel on many levels: More military cooporations. More investment in joint development of military systems. More purchases of Israeli  military technology. A stronger America, willing to protect its interests around the world, will provide stability and will force radical anti-American and Anti-Israeli entities to think harder before making a hostile move. One example is the Iranian nuclear deal. Trump’s view of the Iranian deal is much closer to Israel’s view than Obama’s.Trump’s  confrontational posture, may be enough to convince the Iranians to comply with all aspects of the agreement.

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Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and delivers his inaugural address. Full video