The U.S. and Israel are at odds over ending the Gaza War

VTDigger

He looked them in the eye and said there was a new hostages-for-cease-fire deal on the table that Hamas should take.
That public show of empathy with frustrated protesters is something that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has avoided since the war began in October.
Though it was not the first time Mr. Netanyahu has promised to invade the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza, U.S. officials were taken aback by the timing of the comment.
U.S. officials oppose invading Rafah and say Israel should carry out precise operations against Hamas leaders, not a major assault.
When Mr. Blinken met with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday, he reiterated the “clear position” of the United States on Rafah, said Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman.
When reporters asked him about Mr. Netanyahu’s insistence on a Rafah offensive, Mr. Blinken said the cease-fire deal and humanitarian aid were the “focus” of American efforts.
Mr. Netanyahu, who is clinging to power despite a slump in his international and domestic standing, faces a range of seemingly mutually exclusive choices.
Nearly half the respondents — 47 percent — said they would support a comprehensive deal for all the hostages and an end of the war.

NEUTRAL

As his quick trip to the Middle East comes to an end this week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken concluded his meetings with the Israeli president and the families of American hostages kidnapped by Hamas, then walked out of his seaside Tel Aviv hotel and shook hands with demonstrators gathered around.

With a straight face, he told them that Hamas ought to accept the new hostages-for-cease-fire offer that was on the table.

He declared, “Bringing your loved ones home is at the core of everything we’re trying to do, and we will not rest until everyone is back home, man or woman, soldier or civilian, young or old.”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has shied away from that kind of public demonstration of sympathy for disgruntled protesters since the conflict started in October. He has also recently concentrated his public remarks on the impending ground offensive, or, as the Israeli leader put it on Tuesday, “with or without” a cease-fire agreement, an invasion of the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Even though Mr. Netanyahu had previously pledged to attack the final Hamas stronghold in Gaza, U.S. S. The timing of the remark surprised the officials. Hamas leaders can be pressured to accept the deal by threatening to launch an offensive in Rafah, but only if they believe that releasing Palestinian prisoners’ hostages and a six-week cease-fire will eventually result in a permanent cease-fire and prevent a bloody conflict in Rafah, where more than a million displaced Gazans have sought refuge, according to officials.

With almost seven months of the war gone, the stated objectives and diplomatic efforts of the US and Israel appear to be at odds with one another. This difference only gets wider as a result of President Biden’s and Mr. Netanyahu’s domestic political demands.

Dear Mr. Biden and his top aides envision a scenario in which Hamas releases roughly thirty hostages in a matter of weeks; the two sides agree to a provisional cease-fire that will eventually lead to a permanent one and additional hostage releases; and major Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, consent to participate in security and reconstruction operations as well as the resumption of diplomatic relations with Israel.

Recently, Israeli officials have demonstrated some flexibility regarding the terms of the cease-fire agreement, stating that they would lower the number of hostages Hamas must release in the first round of hostilities from 40 to 33.

Even so, Mr. Netanyahu has renounced the notion of an ongoing cease-fire and strengthened his public commitment to destroy Hamas and the numerous fighters he claims are still in Rafah, despite the general consensus among U.S. s. officials that achieving his aim is impossible.

You. S. Officials oppose an invasion of Rafah, arguing that Israel should target Hamas leaders specifically rather than launch a large-scale offensive. According to Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the State Department, Mr. Blinken reaffirmed the “clear position” of the United States regarding Rafah during his meeting with Mr. Netanyahu on Wednesday in Jerusalem.

It’s also evident that the Biden administration is under pressure. As resistance to Mr. Biden’s steadfast support of Israel in the war grows, his liberal voting coalition may split, endangering his chances of beating Donald J. November will see the Republican candidate, Trump. The issue has gained more attention as a result of the student protests against Mr. Biden’s policy on American college campuses and the subsequent police crackdowns.

Furthermore, the United States is defending Israel against UN resolutions that support the Palestinian cause while also deflecting criticism from governments and allies of the Arab world in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It is evident that Mr. Biden’s support for Israel will make it more difficult for him to gain support for American policies intended to counter China and Russia, especially in the countries of the global south, amid accusations of hypocrisy directed towards Washington.

Alright, Mr. Blinken is struggling to overcome the obstacles. Beginning his current Middle Eastern tour on Monday, he guided discussions toward a hostage release and plans for postwar reconstruction in Gaza during meetings with Arab and European officials in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. His visit to Jordan the following day was centered around humanitarian aid.

Mr. Blinken responded that the cease-fire agreement and humanitarian assistance were the “focus” of US efforts when reporters questioned him about Mr. Netanyahu’s insistence on a Rafah offensive.

The demonstrators from Israel demonstrating in front of Mr. Blinken’s Tel Aviv hotel were thinking along similar lines. To put an end to the crisis, which started when roughly 1,200 Israelis were killed in attacks led by Hamas on October, they have put their trust in the American government rather than in themselves. Between 7 and 250 people were held captive. In the Israeli military’s retaliatory air campaign and ground invasion, over 34,000 Palestinians have lost their lives.

S. O. S. I. S. 1. the demonstrators shouted, “only you can save the day.”. “Thank you, Blinken, thank you, Biden. “.

However, even centrist foreign policy analysts and former US officials are urging Mr. Biden to put conditions on military aid or weapons sales, and he continues to support Israel in the war in general.

Alright, Mr. Netanyahu, who is hanging onto power in spite of a decline in both his domestic and international stature, is faced with a number of decisions that appear to be mutually exclusive. He finds himself torn between the far-right members of his ruling coalition, whose backing is essential to his government’s continued existence, and the opposing forces of the Biden administration.

Threats to resign if the much-discussed Rafah operation is halted are coming from his hard-right ministers. The proposed hostage agreement has been characterized as “a dangerous Israeli capitulation and a terrible victory for Hamas” by ultranationalist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Right-wing national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir stated on Tuesday that he had “warned” Mr. Netanyahu of the repercussions of accepting a “reckless deal” that would end the war rather than entering Rafah.

The center-left lawmakers who entered Mr. Netanyahu’s administration in October, lending greater public acceptance to the government’s military operations, have sent out a message that they will not put up with policies that prioritize politics over the good of the country.

The Israeli public, while divided over the likelihood of an outright victory, simultaneously longs for the release of the hostages and for the defeat of Hamas.

According to a poll conducted this week by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, 54% of participants supported the initial agreement that would see the release of the most vulnerable hostages during a 40-day cease-fire. 47 percent of respondents, or almost half, said they would be in favor of a comprehensive agreement that would free all hostages and put an end to the conflict.

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