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US foreign policy is prolonging Israel’s genocide in Gaza

March 19, 2024 at 10:32 am

Doctors examine the Palestinians, brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital after injured in Israeli attack on a house belonging to the Sabit family, in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 17, 2024. [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

When a country’s foreign policy as large and significant as that of the United States is governed by a case of cognitive dissonance, terrible things happen. These terrible things are, in fact, already happening in the Gaza Strip, where well over 100,000 Palestinians have been killed, wounded or are missing, and famine is currently ravaging the displaced population. US foreign policy is prolonging Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

From the start of Israel’s war on 7 October, the US has mishandled the situation, although recent reports indicate that US President Joe Biden, despite his advancing years, has read the overall meaning of that fateful day correctly. According to the Axios news website, Biden argued in a meeting with special counsel Robert Hur on 8 October that the “Israel thing” — the Hamas attack and the Israeli war on Gaza — “has changed it all”.

By this he was referring to the fact that the outcome of these events combined will “determine what the next six, seven decades look like. Biden wasn’t wrong. Indeed, everything that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government and war council have done in Gaza point to a similar Israeli reading of the significance of the “world-altering” events.

Netanyahu has proven his willingness to carry out genocide and starve millions of Palestinians because he still feels that the superior firepower of the Israeli army is able to turn back the clock, and restore Israel’s military standing, geopolitical influence and global position. He is wrong, though, and five months of war and senseless killing continue to demonstrate this.

READ: Erdogan says Western hypocrisy has turned Gaza into world’s largest graveyard for children and women

However, the US political gamble in the Middle East and the global repercussions of Washington’s self-defeating foreign policy makes far less sense. Considering Washington’s historic support for Israel, the US behaviour in the early days of the war was hardly a surprise.

The Biden administration mobilised quickly behind Netanyahu’s war cabinet and sent aircraft carrier battle groups to the eastern Mediterranean, indicating that the US was ready for a major regional conflict. Media reports began speaking of direct US military involvement, specifically through the Delta Force, although the Pentagon claimed that the 2,000 US soldiers were not deployed to fight in Gaza itself.

If it was not obvious enough that the US was a direct partner in the war, mainstream media reports ended any doubt. On 6 March, the Washington Post reported that, “The United States has quietly approved and delivered more than 100 separate foreign military sales to Israel since the Gaza war began.”

Moreover, with time, US foreign policy regarding Gaza became even more perplexing.

Although in the early weeks of the war-turned-genocide Biden questioned the death toll estimates produced by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the casualty count was no longer in doubt later on. Asked on 29 February about the number of women and children killed by Israel during the war, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin answered without hesitation: “It’s over 25,000.”

Yet, the numbers are growing all the time, as are US shipments of arms and ammunition to Israel. “We continue to support Israel with their [sic] self-defence needs. That’s not going to change,” US National Security Advisor John Kirby told ABC News on 14 March.

Israel executes Gaza - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Israel executes Gaza – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

This particular statement is worth a pause, since it came after many media leaks regarding Biden’s frustration — in fact, outright anger — with the way that Netanyahu is handling the war. ABC News reported in early February that the US president had been “venting his frustration” over his administration’s “inability to persuade Israel to change its military tactics in Gaza.” Netanyahu, the outlet quoted Biden as saying, is “giving me hell.”

This is consistent with other recent reports, including one by Politico, claiming that Biden has privately “called the Israeli prime minister a ‘bad f*cking guy’,” due to his stance on the Gaza war.

READ: Biden-Netanyahu rift raises questions about US arms to Israel

Yet, Netanyahu remains emboldened to the extent that he appeared in a Fox News interview on 11 March, speaking openly about “disagreements”, not only between Biden and the Israeli government, but between the US president “and the entire Israeli people.”

It is glaringly obvious that, without continued US military and other forms of support, Israel would not have been able to sustain its war on the Palestinians for more than a few weeks. Thousands of lives could have been saved, and tens of thousands more dreadful, life-changing wounds could have been avoided.

Moreover, the US has served as Israel’s vanguard against the vast majority of world governments which, daily, demand an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. If it were not for repeated US vetoes at the UN Security Council, a resolution demanding a ceasefire would surely have been passed.

Despite this unconditional support, the US is struggling to stave off a wider regional conflict, which is already threatening its political standing in the Middle East. As such, Biden wants to regain the initiative by renewing discussions — albeit without commitment to real action — about a two-state solution and the future of Gaza.

Netanyahu is disinterested in these matters not least because his single greatest political achievement, as far as his right-wing constituency is concerned, is that he has completely frozen any discussions on a political horizon in occupied Palestine. For Netanyahu, losing the war means the unceremonious return to the old US political framework of the so-called “peace process”.

The embattled Israeli prime minister also knows that an end to the war would mean the end of his coalition government, mostly sustained by far-right extremists like Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. To achieve his self-serving goals, therefore, the Israeli leader is willing to sustain a war that is clearly being lost.

Although Biden has completely “lost faith in Netanyahu”, according to the Associated Press, he continues to support Israel without questioning the disastrous outcomes of the war, not only on the Palestinian people, but also on the region and the world, including the United States.

Americans, especially those in Biden’s Democratic Party, must continue to increase their pressure on the administration so that it resolves its cognitive dissonance in Palestine. The president must not be allowed to play this deadly balancing act, privately demanding that the war should stop, while openly funding the Israeli war machine.

The majority of Americans already feel that way, but Biden and his government are yet to get the message. How many more Palestinians have to die before Biden listens to the people chanting “Ceasefire now”?

OPINION: Unmasking the false generosity of the US response to Gaza’s humanitarian catastrophe

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.