Commenting recently on the Israeli operations in Gaza, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that “only the Israelis can talk about the targets they decide to hit and the way they conduct operations.” However, in reality, Washington is beginning to “boil” with this “Israeli way” and Tel Aviv’s goals.
It is recalled that in the visit of the American president to Israel, immediately after the attacks of Hamas on October 7, American President Joe Biden made clear his ardent support for Israel, touchingly hugging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Biden may have pledged to help his closest ally in the region defeat Hamas – considered an existential threat to Israel – but not at any cost.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, the interests of the US and Israel diverge not only in the short term, but also in the long term, clouding the landscape regarding the Israel-Hamas war.
Fire from within and annoying phone calls
After returning from his lightning trip to Israel, Biden began to receive a barrage of calls of displeasure from the Democratic party itself, about his unwavering support for Israel waging a dirty war by provoking public opinion.
Ahead of the election, Democrats see their president facing criticism from members of his own party — particularly younger voters and Muslim and Arab-Americans — who are concerned about the rising death toll in Gaza and are urging the administration to call for a ceasefire.
Even members of Congress who have been pro-Israel and backed military aid for the country said this week they wanted to see more restraint in its military campaign against Hamas.
“The current rate of civilian deaths in Gaza is unacceptable and unsustainable,” Senator Chris Murphy, who sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs panel’s Middle East subcommittee, said Thursday, Nov. 2. “I urge Israel to immediately review its approach and shift to a more deliberate and proportionate counter-terrorism campaign.” Baidei’s percentages in opinion polls are very low.
So, under pressure from within, Biden has repeatedly called Netanyahu, his son, that Israel must carry out its military campaign in accordance with international humanitarian law. The US is also increasingly calling for an end to the fighting to get humanitarian aid to Gaza and the hostages safely, although it has resisted calls for a full ceasefire.
“I think we need a pause,” Biden said on Wednesday, November 1, while Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said he discussed the issue and how a ceasefire would work with Netanyahu and Israel’s war cabinet on Friday, November 3.
Netanyahu is ruthless
However, the fact that Israel briefly suspended hostilities – as American officials claim – to free two American hostages, does not mean that Tel Aviv accepts the cessation of hostilities demanded by the Americans.
Netanyahu made it clear on Friday, November 3, that he was opposed to a temporary ceasefire without the release of the Israeli hostages.
At the same time, the US is pushing to minimize civilian casualties, proposing more “surgical” precision strikes targeting Hamas leaders. Nevertheless, as the Wall Street Journal points out, the death toll is rising in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis is worsening, while Israel continues its large-scale attacks, such as the bombing of a refugee camp, killing women and children.
According to the US newspaper, the White House may be refusing to consider whether the strike was “appropriate”, but US officials have been disappointed with the large-scale casualties.
“These are their businesses and they — and only they — can speak to targeting decisions and how they conduct business,” said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. “What we’re going to do is make sure they have the tools and the capabilities, including our perspectives, the lessons learned in this kind of warfare as they venture out to make those operational decisions.”
But the Israelis are not flinching, much to the dismay of many in Washington. On Friday, November 3, Netanyahu said he would continue his military campaign in Gaza “with all his might.” He even added that he would not allow fuel into Gaza, which the US and humanitarian groups say is needed to run generators for hospitals and water facilities.
Deviations in long-term goals
Tel Aviv’s crude military approach, however, is not the only element creating a rift in Tel Aviv-Washington relations. While Netanyahu is against two states, Biden is increasingly calling for a Palestinian state with his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken holding talks with the Israeli government about what comes next for Israel and Gaza after a war.
“We have and will continue to have discussions with partners across the region and far beyond about what comes next when Hamas is defeated,” Blinken said Friday. “The best path, perhaps the only path, as I said, is through two states for two peoples.”
At the same time, however, the Israelis are rather confused, without seeing the long term. “Israelis are unclear about what the end of the war would mean for the future of Gaza,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the goal is to destroy Hamas’ military capabilities and its ability to govern, but added that his country has no interest in permanently reoccupying Gaza. And some on the Israeli far right have supported occupying Gaza in the long term or pushing Gazans into neighboring Egypt’s Sinai region, which Egyptian leaders oppose.”
The two-state solution, the cessation of hostilities and Israel’s respect for international law are part of Washington’s broader plan to manage the Arab-Israeli government in such a way that the Western alliance is not disrupted in the face of the great adversaries in the East.
“The Biden administration is trying to keep its allies united against Iran, Russia and China,” reports the major American newspaper. Both the US and Israel may want to avoid a larger regional war, but, he adds, Israel is willing to take more risks than the US in order to defeat Hamas.