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Based upon US President Donald Trump’s inaugural speech, how will the new president be for the State of Israel? Will he be Netanyahu’s best friend or will Israel have to pay for US military assistance?

Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Donald Trump is now President of the United States of America.  If his inauguration speech is any indication in what direction America will be headed over the next 4 years, it appears that Donald Trump is picking up right where his campaign left off.  In his speech, he condemned the Washington establishment, hinted that he will follow a radically different foreign policy than his predecessors and reached out to the working class Caucasian people who were adversely affected by the outsourcing of jobs that supported him: “Together, we will make America great again.” The question is, how will these developments affect the State of Israel?

Based upon his speech, it is evident that the new US government will place the global war against terrorism at the top of their agenda.  Unlike the Obama administration, they have no problem identifying the jihadist terrorist threat by its name: “We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”   The era of appeasing terrorists appears to have come to an end. In order to fight against the global jihadist threat, the Donald Trump administration will view Israel to be a key ally and will seek to build a strong alliance with the Jewish state.

Among the moves that Trump could potentially take in order to reinforce the strategic alliance between Israel and the United States is to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem, to give tacit approval for Israel to annex Maale Adumim, to refrain from condemning extensive settlement expansion and to sign off on a US Senate bill to cut US funding to the UN until they repeal the anti-settlement resolution in the UN Security Council that was passed towards the end of Obama’s term.  On the surface, it appears that US President Donald Trump is going to be a good friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the State of Israel generally speaking.  

However, there is also a cause for concern. During US President Donald Trump’s inaugural speech, Trump proclaimed: “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.”

“From this moment on, it’s going to be America First,” Trump declared. “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.”

During the campaign, Donald Trump vowed that he would not provide foreign assistance to countries unless they paid for it: “I want to keep NATO but I want them to pay.” In the beginning, there was concern that Israel might be forced to pay for all of the assistance that the country receives from the US. While Trump initially stated that Israel would have to pay, he later on declared that he will give more aid to Israel than his predecessors did. Whether or not Israel will actually have to pay remains to be seen.  However, based on his remarks, Trump is not a neoconservative and is much more isolationist than previous Republican presidents were.   He does not seek to spread democracy throughout the world and wants to have America retreat from the international arena unless it involves the global War on Terror.