Recent "news" stories report that former Secretary Robert Gates had run-ins with PM Netanyahu of Israel over various mutual defense matters. Before retiring this summer:"In a meeting of the National Security Council Principals Committee... held not long before his retirement this summer, Gates coldly laid out the many steps the administration has taken to guarantee Israels security -- access to top- quality weapons, assistance developing missile-defense systems, high-level intelligence sharing -- and then stated bluntly that the U.S. has received nothing in return, particularly with regard to the peace process. ...Gates argued to the president directly that Netanyahu is not only ungrateful, but also endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israels growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank." Whole story hereHa'aretz offers these additional details: "An embarrassing incident between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in July 2010 led to serious, two-month crisis between the Pentagon and the Israeli defense establishment, according to a senior Israeli official. The official said that Gates was deeply insulted by a number of claims against him Netanyahu aired in a meeting regarding the supposed breaching of bilateral agreements regarding the sale of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia and Lebanon."No sitting cabinet official can publicly express complaints that go against presidential policies, so Gates had to wait until he retired. Still, a bit more transparency on the relations of the "50" U.S. states to the "51st" might begin to loosen that death grip the 51st has on the rest of us.Can we hope that these "leaks" from various sources are a prelude to a U.S. abstention when the Palestinian Authority goes to the UN in the next weeks for recognition of a Palestinian state?
Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.