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Damage control, opportunities, and increased humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip

Netanyahu and Biden. Wikipedia

On Thursday evening, a phone call was made between US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu, in which Biden presented a real ultimatum to the Israeli government – to change the policy regarding the entrance of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, and to move toward a temporary ceasefire and a hostage deal with Hamas. Failure to change policy on these issues could lead to a change in American policy regarding Israel. This historically resonates with the letter that President Reagan sent to Prime Minister Begin at the height of the siege of Beirut in August 1982, in which he demanded an immediate evacuation agreement with the PLO, which did indeed happen.

This is not a complete policy change on Biden’s part, but it is a step forward in the process that has been going on for several months. Biden is influenced by many domestic pressures calling for an end to the fighting, and by the fear of the war against him in preparation for the upcoming elections; the incident that took place a few days ago, in which the IDF accidentally killed 7 humanitarian workers, is largely a pretext for Biden to increase the pressure on Israel significantly.

Immediately after the conversation, the political-security cabinet met, and decided to partially comply with American demands – and increase the rate of entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, including through the Erez Crossing, and commit to an attempt to expand the protection of humanitarian workers. The cabinet did not publish decisions regarding the negotiations for the release of the hostages or about the continuation of the war plans, including the maneuver in Rafah to which the Americans had already expressed their opposition.

This decision frustrates many Israelis, and may seem like submission to demands from foreign powers that are contrary to Israeli interests. But it is important to recognize the great importance of the United States for Israel’s war effort, in terms of arms assistance and diplomatic backing. Such is geopolitics—you can never achieve everything, and anyone who thinks he can do things only according to his own wishes will find himself behaving (and being treated) like North Korea. The importance is in compromise and pressure regulation, and right now it seems that this is the direction the government is heading – when in the face of the new threats on the horizon, including the possibility of a direct confrontation with Iran in the near future, the American back is more important than ever. In addition, according to ‘Israel Hayom’, contacts for a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia are still advancing; other opportunities may wait for us in the not-too-distant future, and we must be careful not to torpedo them in the first place.

To respond – rxpuyhi@gmail.com

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