Israel,  UK Politics

Clegg on Israel: reason for concern?

While it’s no secret that relations between the US and Israel have been going through one of their tense phases, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that military cooperation between the two countries is at least as strong as ever.

[O]fficials from both countries say that military and security cooperation has weathered the political storms of recent months, and in some areas actually thrived. An advanced American radar system, for example, has been deployed to Israel’s Negev Desert, whence it can help the burgeoning Israeli missile-defense network.

A large military exercise last fall, code-named Juniper Cobra, was used to practice linking up that radar with American defense systems. The U.S. is funding the development of an advanced Israeli long-range, high-altitude system for knocking out ballistic missiles of the kind that might come from Iran. Israel is discussing purchasing the new American F-35 fighter jet, now nearing completion.

At the heart of much of this joint work is the relationship between [US Defense secretary Robert] Gates and his counterpart, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Both men are veteran political survivors and hard-eyed realists, and their ties seem to have grown stronger even as political strains between the White House and Prime Minister Netanyahu have increased. The two defense chiefs met last week and emerged uttering strikingly similar statements of warning to Israel’s enemies.

U.S. officials also say there is a high level of intelligence sharing. One outgrowth appears to be a significant effort to detect and then stop arms shipments going from Iran to Syria, and potentially on to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.

By contrast, what are we to make of the fact that Nick Clegg– now the second most powerful person in the UK government– advocates an arms embargo against Israel?