A challenge from Biden, and the internal controversy in the United States

Netanyahu and Biden. Wikipedia

As the IDF advances into the outskirts of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, which is Hamas’s last major stronghold in the Gaza Strip, Israel is experiencing increasing pressure from the American administration, expressing concern for the hundreds of thousands of refugees taking shelter throughout the city. In the past two days, pressure has risen from rhetorical threats to actions – when Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin recently confirmed in a Senate hearing that the United States is delaying arms shipments to Israel, at least until the administration can determine the nature of Israel’s intentions and actions.

Last night, President Joe Biden was interviewed by CNN, and said things that are beyond the pro-Israel line he has taken so far: Biden claimed that in view of the fact that American arms and weaponry led to civilian deaths during the war because of the nature of Israeli usage, if the IDF decides to move into Rafah, the United States would prevent it from receiving offensive weapons (bombs for aircraft, and artillery shells). In any event, Biden has pledged that Israel will continue to receive defensive weapons (such as Iron Dome missiles). In the meantime, this is only a threat – since Israel has not yet advanced to the population centers in Rafah.

This is a grave threat, sending a very negative message to Hamas, America’s allies, the Israeli public, and Israel’s enemies. It is not entirely clear how this is in line with the president’s remarks in his Holocaust Memorial Day speech only two days ago, regarding Hamas’ responsibility for the war and his personal “iron-solid” commitment to Israel’s security. In addition, applying American pressure on Israel at times like these reduces the chances of successful negotiations for the release of hostages.

In any case, it can be assumed that Biden made his threat in the face of pro-Palestinian domestic pressures; and this may be a reason for optimism – since the pro-Israel side of American politics and public has not yet had to exert significant pressure, and when necessary – this will resonate more strongly and significantly than any violent demonstration on a university campus. The pressure was evident in a letter sent to Biden yesterday by Republican leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives, Mike Johnson and Mitch McConnell, urging the president to resume arms supplies to Israel at full speed.

To respond – rxpuyhi@gmail.com

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