President Biden’s Warning to Israel: A Delicate Balancing Act in Gaza

Featured & Cover President Biden's Warning to Israel A Delicate Balancing Act in Gaza

President Biden’s firm stance against a significant Israeli military operation in Rafah has put Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a difficult position. Launching a major offensive to crush Hamas in southern Gaza risks rupturing ties with the U.S., while failure to act decisively could weaken Netanyahu’s domestic political coalition.

According to White House national security communications adviser John Kirby, the U.S. acknowledges Israel’s need to make its own decisions regarding military actions. However, Biden made it clear that a major invasion of Rafah would prompt significant consequences, including withholding offensive arms transfers to Israel.

Biden’s warning comes amid growing criticism of Israel’s military conduct, particularly concerning civilian casualties in Gaza. Despite emphasizing support for Israel’s security, Biden stated that the U.S. opposes Israel’s ability to wage war in civilian areas.

Netanyahu hinted at Israel’s readiness to confront Hamas in Rafah independently, irrespective of U.S. warnings. Meanwhile, opposition leader Benny Gantz stressed Israel’s duty to defend itself, underscoring the U.S.’s obligation to support Israel’s security.

While some Israeli leaders criticized Biden’s stance, Netanyahu has shown a degree of compliance with U.S. demands behind closed doors. However, he faces pressure from his right-wing base, necessitating a delicate balancing act.

Despite Biden’s frustration over Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, his administration aims to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas and negotiate a ceasefire to end the conflict. A key aspect of Biden’s Middle East strategy involves brokering a deal for Saudi Arabia to normalize ties with Israel, contingent upon ending the Gaza war.

Saudi Arabia insists on a pathway to a Palestinian state before establishing relations with Israel. Although Israeli public support for a Palestinian state is mixed, it becomes more acceptable within the context of a broader U.S.-brokered agreement.

The Biden administration envisions post-war Gaza being overseen by the Palestinian Authority, supported by a coalition of Arab security forces. However, Israel asserts the need to defeat Hamas before such arrangements can be implemented.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Herzog, emphasized the necessity of neutralizing Hamas’s military capabilities in Rafah to prevent its resurgence. He underscored the importance of Arab forces intervening only after Hamas is decisively defeated.

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