Tags: Barack Obama | Israel | israel | oil | supply | deal | barack obama

Critics: US-Israel Oil Accord in Limbo Due to Obama-Bibi Feud

By    |   Thursday, 19 Mar 2015 06:15 PM

For 40 years, the U.S. and Israel have had a standing agreement that, should Israel be cut off from oil supply by high prices or a wartime crisis, the U.S. would provide, and even deliver if necessary, emergency shipments.

Now, that agreement, which expired in November, remains unextended, and critics of the Obama administration speculate it is being left to languish because of the troubled relationship between President Barack Obama and newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Daily Caller reports.

The lack of a signed agreement caused six senators to send a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on March 12, stating, "We urge you to expedite the renewal of this important agreement as a meaningful gesture of support to our friend and ally at this challenging time."

The bipartisan letter was signed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp D-N.D., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV.

Invoking the words of Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, that the relationship with Israel should remain “unquestionably strong, immutable, regardless of political seasons in either country and regardless of which party is in control in either country," the letter urges that the agreement be renewed.

Murkowski told the Houston Chronicle, "We have a long history of working with Israel on issues related to energy and the environment. Given the heightened tensions in the region, it’s only prudent that we reaffirm our commitment to our allies.”

The Israeli business site Globes reports that sources in Washington told them, "it was not clear whether this was a deliberate step by the administration, stemming perhaps from renewed friction between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House, or a matter of bureaucratic inertia in Washington."

The agreement was first signed by the Ford Administration in l975, signed again in 1979, extended by the Clinton Administration in 1994 for 10 more years and again extended for another 10 years in 2004, Globes reports.

State Department sources told Reuters in November they were "in close contact with the government of Israel on extending the longstanding memorandum of understanding," but nothing has been announced since then.

The lapsed agreement, which Israel has never used, states that the U.S. will sell emergency oil to Israel if the price Israel pays rises 20 percent above the average of "several benchmark crudes" or if Israel loses 22 percent of its oil from suppliers, provided the U.S. has sufficient oil, the Chronicle states.

"The Obama administration’s relationship with Israel has been seen as deteriorating, especially as the administration engages in talks with Iran about its nuclear energy program," the Daily Caller notes.

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been highly critical of these talks, and it’s no secret the Obama administration has been frustrated by Israel’s criticisms of a nuclear deal with Iran."

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For 40 years, the U.S. and Israel have had a standing agreement that, should Israel be cut off from oil supply by high prices or a wartime crisis, the U.S. would provide, and even deliver if necessary, emergency shipments.
israel, oil, supply, deal, barack obama, benjamin netanyahu, feud
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2015-15-19
Thursday, 19 Mar 2015 06:15 PM
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