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Biden Netanyahu Relations and Its impact in Gaza war

Mohshin  Habib

Mohshin Habib

Thu, 23 May 24

It is so complicated to describe the relations between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. On 20 May, US President criticized the decision of ICC prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, on war-crime charges while he was speaking at a Jews heritage event in the Rose Garden at the White House. “Let me be clear, we reject the ICC’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders,” Biden said. “There is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas,” Biden added. He also declared that the Isreal’s military action in Gaza is not genocide. Does it mean, however, that President Biden supporting Netanyahu and his coalition government? Not at all. President Biden is just following the US principle to safe and support the nation Israel at any cost she needed. On the other part of the coin, Biden threatened to withhold arms supplies if Israel entered Rafah in southern Gaza, what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu clearly ignored.

Meanwhile, Biden paused the delivery of a shipment of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs to Israel. Netanyahu remains undeterred, saying that Israel will “stand alone” and fight “with our fingernails” if U.S. weapons shipments stopped. Many other Israeli lawmakers attacked Biden for the announcement, despite the U.S. being Israel’s single biggest supporter and source of military funding and weapons on the world stage. Although Israeli security experts believe the pause will not affect planned operations in Rafah. Other analysts view the move as largely symbolic, intended to convey a serious message.

Some people believe that the demonstrations and riots, in Israel and USA, are part of a plan by the Biden administration to bring down the Netanyahu government. The US State Department has been providing financial support for protests hostile to the Netanyahu government! Why? Because of Biden, it seems, is frustrated that Netanyahu is objecting to humanitarian aid objecting the creation of a Palestinian state next door. Moreover, the Biden administration’s decision on March 25 not to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza brought the tension between the Biden and the Netanyahu to a new high.

The Biden administration appears to believe that a change in government and prime minister in Israel is crucial for effective U.S. policy and a shift to a new regional order. Netanyahu, meanwhile, views an open confrontation with Biden as beneficial for his survival amid Israel’s domestic political crisis. The situation has deteriorated as both parties are now openly interfering in each other’s domestic politics. Netanyahu has abandoned the long-standing policy of bipartisan cooperation, leaning heavily on the Republicans, while Biden and his allies are openly or implicitly expressing a desire for a new prime minister and government in Israel.

The strained relationship between Biden and Netanyahu is not new. The Biden-Netanyahu relationship is characterized by a history of deep-rooted disagreements and recent high-stakes political maneuvers. The ongoing conflicts and crises reflect broader challenges in U.S.-Israel relations and the complex dynamics within Israeli politics. It dates back to when Obama’s presidency coincided with Netanyahu’s return to power in early 2009, leading to significant and open disagreements over the Palestinian issue and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Obama aimed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and successfully pressured Netanyahu to publicly accept the idea of a two-state solution, which he did in a speech at Bar Ilan University. The last time Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu had a public spat as intense as the current one was 14 years ago. In March 2010, Biden traveled to Jerusalem to advance President Obama’s ambitious peace plans with Netanyahu—the prime minister whom Biden, upon landing, called his “close, personal friend of over 33 years.” Obama sought a freeze on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank to preserve land for a future Palestinian state as U.S. special envoy George Mitchell restarted Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. However, upon Biden’s arrival, Netanyahu’s government abruptly announced the construction of 1,600 new Israeli apartments in the disputed territory. This move humiliated and enraged Biden, who retaliated by keeping his close personal friend “Bibi” waiting for an hour and a half at dinner that night.

In recent weeks, after months of Netanyahu openly defying Biden’s calls for restraint in Gaza, the president initiated an unprecedented and very public pressure campaign. He imposed sanctions on Israeli settlers and settlements, invited Netanyahu’s chief rival, Benny Gantz, to the White House to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris, and issued a National Security Council memo suggesting that military aid to Israel should be conditioned on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

In the days following Gantz’s U.S. visit, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu faces a new crisis as public anger mounts over his handling of the Gaza conflict. Senior minister Benny Gantz is threatening to quit Israel’s coalition government if Netanyahu does not develop a plan for Gaza’s post-war governance within three weeks. This ultimatum places Netanyahu in a difficult position: accepting Gantz's suggestions could cost him the support of his far-right partners and potentially topple his government.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, is trying to hold onto his power until the next U.S. election in November this year. He is hopeful that the U.S. administration will change and Trump will return. During this period, I think the Gaza war will continue.

MohshIn Habib: A writer and journalist

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