The U.S. Response to Israel’s Attack on Gaza: “We Will Keep on Until We Defend Our Neighbors”
Humanitarian groups’ calls for a cease-fire have been growing, though they don’t appear to be motivating the leaders of Israel or their ally, the U.S.
In response to an October attack on Israel in which 1,400 people were killed, Israel continues to bomb the Gaza Strip.
The heads of 18 UN agencies renewed their calls for a cease-fire as well as the release of all hostages, in a rare joint statement.
Enough is enough. The heads of the World Health Organization, the High Commissioner for Refugees, and the United Nations children’s agency are among those who signed the letter.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., this weekend to demand a cease-fire in one of the nation’s largest pro-Palestinian protests since the conflict began. Others have taken place in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco — as well as cities throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and Latin America.
Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, became the first senator to publicly call for a cease-fire and said he would support it if Hamas agreed to release hostages. The change in Capitol Hill has coincided with changes in Mr. Biden’s public messaging on Israel.
The Israeli prime minister said in his televised address that he had told Blinken that Israel would not allow a cease-fire to include the return of hostages.
“This should be completely removed from the lexicon,” he said. “We say this to our friends and to our enemies. We will keep on until we defeat them. We have no alternative.”
The U.S. and Israel are engaged on the practical aspects of humanitarian pauses: an aided approach to stalemate
After meeting with Netanyahu and his war cabinet in Tel Aviv, Blinken told reporters, “Only the best of friends can offer advice on how to minimize civilian deaths while still achieving its objectives of finding and finishing Hamas terrorists.”
The Israeli government was asked to stop operations in certain regions of Gaza in order to facilitate the release of hostages and deliver aid.
At least 450 aid trucks had entered Gaza since October 21st after the reopened of the Rafah border crossing. The daily number of confirmed trucks crossing through is not as high as it used to be.
One is temporary and designed to get something done on the ground. The other is meant to end the military phase of the conflict.
The US is working to answer questions Israel has about how humanitarian pauses will work, according to Tony Blinken, a deputy secretary of state.
He said on Monday that the two countries are engaged “on the particular practicalities” of humanitarian pauses, and called those efforts — both to make progress on hostages and increase aid to Gaza — a work in progress.
The White House said Biden and Netanyahu spoke on Monday morning, including about the “possibility of tactical pauses to provide civilians with opportunities to safely depart from areas of ongoing fighting, to ensure assistance is reaching civilians in need, and to enable potential hostage releases.” It said the two agreed to speak again in the coming days.
Mr. Biden has a prominent role in supplying arms and intelligence for his allies, so his influence over the prosecution of the wars seems less than expected. The United States is tied to both struggles because it is an ally of Israel and hopes to remain a free and independent nation.
It has not. Mr. Netanyahu didn’t like Mr. Biden’s push for greater efforts to avoid civilian casualties. He has made it clear that he will not relent in his determination to destroy Hamas even if they also destroy whole neighborhoods in Gaza.
Last week, the most senior military commander in Ukraine, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, uttered the word that American officials avoided for a year: stalemate. Many advisers to Mr. Biden agree that the battle is not being moved by Russia or Ukraine in a significant way.
They think that General Zaluzhny will make it harder to convince Republicans to vote for aggressive funding for the war, even if they agree with him.
A long history of U.S. presidents believing they don’t have as much leverage over Israel as they thought is what has happened, according to a Massachusetts Democrat and former Marine. Even if we have huge stakes in the outcome of the fight, he said it’s first and foremost their fight.
The conflicts of history, geography and national interests are distinct from the ones Mr. Biden spoke about in an address to the nation two weeks ago.
He said that they both wanted to completely destroy a neighboring democracy, but that they were different threats.
Democrats in Congress, torn between their support for Israel in its war with Hamas and concern about civilian suffering in Gaza, are struggling with how far to go in calling for measures to mitigate civilian casualties as the left wing of the party escalates pressure for a cease-fire.
“You’ve got to have a pause in the bombing. You’ve got to take care of the immediate disaster. Israel’s got to change its strategy,” Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and a prominent Jewish progressive, said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I don’t know how you can have a cease-fire — permanent cease-fire — with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel.”
The backlash from some progressive activists highlights the pressures that the Democrats are facing in dealing with the issue. It’s the same dilemma that President Biden is having as he deals with growing hostility on the left to his backing of Israel, and it could result in political consequences for the party. The Democrats will need strong support from their core supporters in order to hold the White House and the Senate and win back control of the House in the 2024 elections.
The change in tone comes as progressive polls indicate that a majority of Democratic voters favor a cease-fire, as well as evidence that younger people and people of color are critical of the Biden administration’s stance on the war.
Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan and the only Palestinian American in Congress, put a sharp point on the disconnect last week in a video that accused Mr. Biden of supporting a genocide in Gaza and threatened him with electoral consequences in 2024 if he failed to call for a cease-fire.
International law considers genocide to be a crime if it is committed with the intention to destroy a group. Top Israeli officials have said they are targeting Hamas, not the Palestinian people.
The video also featured pro-Palestinian protesters in Michigan chanting “from the river to the sea,” a rallying cry referring to the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that many regard as calling for the eradication of Israel.
Ms. Slotkin, who is Jewish, wrote that leaders shouldn’t amplify language that makes it harder for communities to find common ground. I will apologize and withdraw the phrase that I used if I know I have hurt anyone. I would ask you the same thing.
The phrase means to eradicate Israel and Jews. She wrote that a return of hostages is what will save civilians and secure peace, justice and dignity.
Ms. Tlaib defended the slogan as “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.” In a statement, she also accused her colleagues of focusing on pillorying her at the expense of saving lives.