Biden is just desperate for the war to end before the November election

American promises of support have never meant less than they do now


WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 01: U.S. President Joe Biden looks on during a virtual meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

June 05, 2024 10:23

The Biden administration cannot afford for the war in Gaza to go on. November’s presidential elections are five months away and the Democratic National Convention only two months away. Donald Trump is now a convicted felon but he still leads Joe Biden in the polls. The war has split the Democrats and they are unwilling to unite around Biden. The president needs a win.

The ceasefire plan announced by President Biden on 31 May is an attempt to force Israel to stop fighting. That means leaving Hamas in power in Gaza. The administration knows that. It also knows that this would amount to a defeat for Israel, whose government has committed itself to victory, and defined victory as the removal of Hamas.

When Biden announced the plan, he said that Israel could safely withdraw from Gaza and safely free hundreds of Palestinian terrorists in exchange for the hostages in Gaza, “without any further risk to their own security, because they have devastated Hamas forces over the past eight months”.

“At this point,” Biden continued, “Hamas no longer is capable of carrying out another October 7th.” He didn’t suggest at what point Hamas might again be capable of mass terrorism. Just so long as it doesn’t happen until after the elections.

This, in the White House’s view, is as good as it can get. Military action, Biden says, cannot assure “an enduring defeat of Hamas”. Instead, Israel should trust a “regional security network” to keep Hamas in line while our old friend the “international community” rebuilds Gaza “in a manner that does not allow Hamas to rearm”.

You could drive a bus of freed Palestinian terrorists through this argument. No Israeli prime minister could retain office after outsourcing Israel’s basic security to a third party.

The American-led order is collapsing as a defeated America leaves the region. American promises of support have never meant less than they do now.

The “international community” does not exist. The governments who say it does are the same Western governments that nodded and winked as UNRWA, the Red Cross and the entire NGO apparatus became willingly complicit with Hamas.

The Americans say the ceasefire proposal reflects offers from Israeli negotiators. Benjamin Netanyahu says that he empowered his negotiators, but also that the war will not end “until all of its goals are achieved, including the return of all our hostages and the elimination of Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities”.

Perhaps there’ll be another strategic pause in fighting — a hudna, as the Arabs say — and another exchange of hostages and prisoners. But something has to give.

The administration has more leverage over Israel than it does over Hamas. Forcing Netanyahu from office and imposing a more pliant Israeli leadership, and doing it before November, seems more feasible than breaking Hamas.

Netanyahu won’t play along. Last week, he accepted an invitation from Mike Johnson, the Republican Speaker of the House, and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Speaker of the Senate, to address a joint session of Congress. Only a few weeks ago, Schumer was calling for Netanyahu’s overthrow as an unfit leader. Now Schumer is forced by the Republican-controlled House, and public opinion, to invite Netanyahu to give a record-breaking fourth address to Congress — one more than Winston Churchill managed.

Churchill was an adroit builder of bridges with the Americans as Britain lost its imperial power. Netanyahu excels at the pettier manoeuvres of domestic partisanship — Israeli as well as American. Addressing Congress in the weeks before the elections would be a calculated insult to Joe Biden and the Democrats. Call it returning a favour.

June 05, 2024 10:23

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