Australia and Israel: Concerning Trump and Obama Honouring Predecessors’ Commitments

February 5, 2017 by David Singer
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A virtual media storm has erupted at the suggestion that President Trump might renege on President Obama’s agreement to take up to 2000 refugees off Australia’s hands presently languishing on Manus Island and Nauru (“Obama-Australia Commitment”)…writes David Singer.The Obama-Australia Commitment was made in the dying days of Obama’s eight years reign as President in November 2016.

Yet the same media remained silent for the last eight years as President Obama reneged on President Bush’s agreement supporting Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank, as well as advancing President Bush’s Roadmap designed to end the 80-years-long unresolved Jewish- Arab conflict (“Bush-Israel Commitment”).

The differences between the Obama-Australia Commitment and the Bush-Israel Commitment could not be starker for the following reasons:

  1. Search as you might – you cannot find what the Obama-Australia Commitment specifically states.

Dara Lind sums up this “agreement” as follows:

“The details of the agreement were a little fuzzy. It wasn’t clear how many refugees the US would end up taking, and there was some confusion about what role the UN High Commissioner for Refugees would play in the process. While Australia’s top immigration official, Michael Pezzullo, called the deal “an agreement entered into through diplomatic means,” it’s not clear whether a text was ever actually signed.”

On the other hand the Bush-Israel Commitment comprises a letter from President Bush to Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004 – which can be read at the following link:

  1. There is a strong suggestion that the Obama-Australia Commitment was concluded in some sleazy backroom deal between the Australian Embassy in Washington and the US State Department that would see refugees from Central America presently housed in camps in Costa Rica being resettled in Australia.

On the other hand the Bush-Israel Commitment was openly discussed in the US Congress and endorsed in the House – 407 votes to 9 – and in the Senate – 95 votes to 3.

Obama had no qualms in sticking it to his own Democratic Congressional colleagues – including Hillary Clinton – voting in favour then as a Senator – by ignoring their almost unanimous support for the Bush-Israel Commitment.

Instead Obama led America down the garden path for five years to one of the worst diplomatic and policy failures of his presidency – antagonising Israel in the process.

Israel paid a huge price for its Gaza disengagement in 2005 in reliance of the Bush-Israel Commitment – including:

  • the expulsion of 8000 Jews who had lived in Gaza for periods of up to forty years,
  • the indiscriminate firing of tens of thousands of rockets into Israeli population centres reaching as far as Tel Aviv
  • three military incursions into Gaza to try and end the violence emanating from the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Yet the media never attacked Obama for disgracefully betraying his predecessor’s commitment to a close ally.

Now an infuriated President Trump has the supposed gall to tweet:

“Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

An outraged media see this as a perfect opportunity to thump Trump – as do many politicians.

In doing so they betray their own appalling double standards and biases that sees so many readers abandoning their publications – and voters their political parties – in ever increasing numbers.

Outrage at Trump possibly not confirming the Obama-Australia Commitment stands awkwardly alongside the deafening silence following Obama’s repudiation of the Bush-Israel Commitment. Both are worthy of endorsement by President Trump on his terms – assisting two tried and trusted allies in their time of need.

That’s what friends are for.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network


7 Responses to “Australia and Israel: Concerning Trump and Obama Honouring Predecessors’ Commitments”
  1. David singer says:


    Sorry to disagree with you Harry.

    The media gave Obama an easy ride when he made his land swaps speech on 19 May 2011.

    This was contrary to the terms of the Bush letter.

    Yet see how Glen Kessler treated this betrayal of Israel.

    He mentions the Bush letter and part of its contents..

    He merely states without comment:
    ” Interestingly, despite Israeli pleas, the Obama administration has refused to acknowledge the letter as binding on U.S. policy.”

    Kessler never tells his readers it was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Congress 502 votes to 12.

    He quotes Senator Hillary Clinton in November 2009:
    ” “We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”

    — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nov. 25, 2009″

    He never mentions Senator Hillary Clinton voted to endorse the Bush letter in 2004.

    Obama was subjected to real media scrutiny as he trashed the Bush-Congress endorsed commitments between 2011 and 2016.

    The media remained silent on Obama’s blatant repudiation of an American commitment to a close ally.

    Look at how CNN treats the unwritten Obama Agreement with Australia:
    “(CNN)A landmark deal to settle refugees detained by Australia in the US is on shaky ground following reports of a contentious phone call between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and President Donald Trump.”

    The Obama-Australia agreement – a land mark deal.

    The Bush letter to Israel endorsed by Congress – Not binding on US policy.

    So did the media treat the Bush Commitments to Israel and so do they treat the Obama refugee swap with Australia

    Joining the two dots is very easy .

    • David singer says:

      Sorry but one sentence in my reply should have read:

      “Obama was subjected to NO real media scrutiny as he trashed the Bush-Congress endorsed commitments between 2011 and 2016.”

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    I quess theres a little history as to why it’s a dumb deal with Trumps mentality…….

    Why would he swap Australia’s refugees nominally Muslim for his?

    And it’s only a re-hash of Tony Abbotts anyway.

  3. Lynne Newington says:

    Trump’s call of a “dumb deal”….why would he take Australia’s nominal Muslim refugees with his mentality for nominal Catholic and Protestants.

  4. Roy Sims says:

    A very good comparison David …
    BUT, there are no prizes for pointing out media bias in any form, especially when it has the appearance of support for either President Trump or Israel.
    Given President Trumps strong focus on protecting his country from international terrorism, which one might assume should have been an Obama priority, it is indeed a “dumb deal” indeed. And as you say, appears to lack documentary authority.
    Australia has taken an enviable stance on border security. It cannot be weakened without people smuggler repercussions. It leaves us with a constant reminder of the chaos of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. Lest we forget.
    The unfortunate souls who committed themselves into the hands of ruthless opportunistic smugglers may still have a long wait before they can resume any kind of normality in their lives.
    We can only hope that President Trump does indeed ratify Obama’s “dumb deal”.

  5. harry sussman says:

    sorry that is a long bow to connect these 2 positions. So one is conducted through a process and the other is alleged as a “shady back room deal” Why would the media even be interested in such occurrence from 12 years ago and the process.

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