US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Israel has sparked controversy and raised questions about his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The timing of his visit, just a day after a hospital bombing in Gaza City, has drawn criticism and put Biden in a precarious position.
Biden’s visit was intended to show support for Israel’s fight against Hamas and offer aid to Palestinians affected by the Israeli siege. However, by arriving in Tel Aviv when he did, Biden has become closely associated with any future actions taken by Israel.
According to Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Biden’s decision to align himself with Israel carries significant risks. He is now tied to whatever actions Israel decides to take in Gaza. Biden is betting that by consoling, negotiating with, and aiding Israel, he can have the most influence in shaping their actions.
One of Biden’s plans is to push for billions of dollars in aid for Israel through Congress. However, this move is likely to fuel debates on the use of US taxpayer funds. Additionally, the US veto of a UN resolution calling for a cease-fire has angered allies and raised concerns about the US’s role in the conflict.
In an effort to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Biden announced that the US would provide $100 million in new funding for aid in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. The US has been urging Israel to allow humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in need. However, the White House acknowledges that it needs to better explain Biden’s Israel policy to the American public.
To address these concerns, Biden will give a prime time White House address on Thursday. The address will focus on discussing the US response to Hamas’ attacks against Israel and Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.
After leaving Tel Aviv, Biden held a press briefing on Air Force One where he announced that he had worked with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to open the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid to Gaza. This move is aimed at providing much-needed relief to the people of Gaza.
However, maintaining credibility may become increasingly difficult for Biden if a ground invasion occurs and civilian casualties rise. Ezra Cohen, a fellow at the Hudson Institute and former US undersecretary of defense for intelligence, believes that Biden will face challenges in explaining to the American people that Israel is following the law of armed conflict.
Critics of Israel argue that the country is not abiding by international laws and norms. A Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed that 78% of Americans, including both Democrats and Republicans, support US diplomatic efforts to allow Gaza residents to seek refuge in a safe country. However, only 41% agreed with the statement that the US should support Israel in its conflict with Hamas, while just 2% believed the US should support the Palestinians.
The situation in Israel and Gaza has the potential to undo years of diplomatic work aimed at building relationships with Arab and Muslim countries. These relationships were intended to make Israel safer, counter US adversaries, and stabilize gas prices.
In conclusion, President Biden’s visit to Israel has raised concerns and put him in a difficult position. His support for Israel’s fight against Hamas and his commitment to providing aid to Palestinians have drawn criticism and sparked debates. As the conflict continues, Biden will need to navigate these challenges and effectively communicate his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the American public.