In a column for Bloomberg that was published last night, author Jeffrey Goldberg reports that a well-placed source informed him of a meeting with the National Security Council Principals Committee (NSC/PC) that took place earlier this year where former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lamented that Israel was failing to take steps towards peace and was ungrateful for all of the support the United States provided it.
Goldberg says Gates told NSC/PC that the United States was providing a wide array of aid and intelligence sharing with Israel and that it was giving “nothing in return” to the United States, particularly with respect to the peace process. Gates also argued that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was endangering his own country by obstructing peace. Goldberg says his sources say that no one at the meeting challenged Gates’s view:
But it was Robert M. Gates, the now-retired secretary of defense, who seemed most upset with Netanyahu. 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 Israel’s 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.
Senior administration officials told me that Gates argued to the president directly that Netanyahu is not only ungrateful, but also endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israel’s growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank. According to these sources, Gates’s analysis met with no resistance from other members of the committee.
Gates’s reported lamentations seem to match those of former CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus. Last year, Petraeus reportedly warned that Israeli foreign policy behavior was unbecoming and threatening American security.
Netanyahu aides responded to Goldberg’s report today, saying, “we have wide support in Congress.”