Biden’s cynical Rafah obsession only strengthens Hamas

Article published by,  14 May 2024. © Richard Kemp

Biden’s cynical obsession with preventing Israel from finishing off Hamas in a major offensive in Rafah will have the opposite effect from the one he intends. His analysis of US electoral projections has convinced him that he must be seen to stand against Israel as the voting intentions of some of his supporters, especially young people, will be damaging to his prospects for a second term unless there is a course correction.

Thus we have seen direct public attacks on Netanyahu and his cabinet by Biden and his supporters such as Chuck Schumer, outrageously calling for replacement of the democratically-elected government of an allied country. There was the failure in March to veto UN Security Council Resolution 2728 demanding a cease-fire without linkage to hostage release.

Then there have been repeated false accusations of Israel blocking aid into Gaza and creating famine. We have seen Biden’s unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations of the IDF going ‘over the top’ in attacks against Hamas in Gaza.

The Biden administration has threatened to sanction an IDF unit on the basis of information supplied by a hostile American NGO with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is an offshoot. There are even suspicions that Biden encouraged an International Criminal Court plan to issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu, his defense minister and military chief of staff.

In the last couple of days, the State Department reported to Congress its suspicions that Israel has breached the laws of war in Gaza, while stopping short of making any conclusive accusation. Such a public attempt to vitiate a close American ally at war must be almost unprecedented.

Most damningly of all is Biden’s withholding supplies of some armaments to Israel, including precision-guided munitions. This from a man who said in 2019 that any such action would be ‘absolutely preposterous’ and ‘beyond comprehension’.

Biden hopes that this will all win back the anti-Israel elements of his support base. In his calculation that clearly trumps any and all damage inflicted on an ally that is fighting for its life on multiple fronts. The damage will be profound.

It may not have a decisive effect on a military offensive in Rafah. The IDF has sufficient stocks of munitions to complete that mission, although some ammunition may have to be rationed, potentially costing Israeli soldiers’ lives; and any shortage of precision weapons may have to be compensated by unguided bombs, which could cost some Gazan civilian lives.

But Biden’s actions will certainly strengthen Hamas. Its survival depends on Israel being stopped from its advance into Rafah. The growing US-led international pressure on Israel can only encourage Hamas to fight harder and longer.

The terrorists’ only incentive to consider releasing hostages is a pause in hostilities to buy time and potentially lead to a full cessation. If those objectives can be achieved as a result of U.S. pressure, that incentive melts away and thus Biden’s policies reduce the prospects of getting the surviving hostages back, including American citizens, or at least raise the price of any who are released.

Biden is therefore prolonging the war, both by the time that is passing as Israel wrestles with how to achieve its objectives while trying to maintain the bilateral relationship, and by the encouragement he gives to Hamas.

That is why Biden’s election-driven obstruction against Israel will operate against his intentions. Assuming Israel goes ahead regardless, which it will have to do in some way, he will be seen not to have stopped the violence. That will continue closer and closer toward voting day with even greater adverse effects for Biden’s Democrats.

Image: Wikimedia Commons