Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 27 November 2023. © Richard Kemp
Joe Biden is no friend of Israel. His constant appeasement of Tehran and blatant distancing from Jerusalem – even refusing to invite Netanyahu to the White House – as well as his feeble responses to Iranian-sponsored attacks against US forces in the region, have only weakened the Israeli government’s hand in fighting terrorism.
His dispatch of two carrier strike groups to the region to deter Iran was recognition that these blunders had brought the Middle East towards a much wider conflict. It was also an effort to restrain Israel from taking the law into its own hands against Iran and its proxies by trying to give the impression that the US was ready to do the dirty work if needed. Some hope of that!
After his visit to Jerusalem at the start of the war, Biden said: ‘My administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.’ It wasn’t long before his actions proved his duplicitousness. While saying publicly that Hamas had to be defeated, he began coercing Israel behind the scenes to stop short of achieving that goal. US collusion with Qatar, which has long harboured Hamas leaders, forced the Israeli war cabinet to agree a ceasefire in return for release of a few hostages.
Now the four day truce is expiring, Biden is pushing for an extension while still claiming to believe that eliminating Hamas remains a legitimate mission for Israel. He knows that the longer Israel’s attack on Hamas is paused for hostage release, the greater the likelihood that it will not be resumed. Hamas is reeling from six weeks of IDF assaults in the air and on the ground and all that can save them now is a permanent halt to Israeli operations.
They will continue to use their only two effective weapons to attempt to bring that about. The first is the hostages, and Hamas will try to drip feed further releases to buy themselves more time. The second is the civilian population of Gaza. If Israel does return to the fight, Hamas will ensure as many civilians as possible die to intensify international pressure on Israel. In that Biden is also their willing tool. Ever since the IDF’s fight-back began he has been vocally ‘encouraging’ Israel to limit civilian casualties. The subtext to that message is that the IDF is deliberately killing Gazan civilians, playing right into the hands of Hamas and its supporters around the world.
According to The Washington Post, Biden even went as far as to privately apologise to Muslim leaders in the US for questioning Hamas figures for civilian casualties a few days ago. That reflects his double-dealing approach to this war, on the one hand appearing to back Israel’s security objectives while on the other working to undermine them. It’s all about the next election, and Biden doesn’t seem to understand that the strategic outcome in the Middle East needs to take precedence over his return to the White House.
Image: White House