Israel cancels delegation visit, rift between Biden and Netanyahu intensifies

Senior Biden administration officials believe they made clear to their Israeli counterparts in non-stop talks over the weekend that the United States is likely to abandon — rather than veto — Monday’s U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

But what happened after the abstention vote came as a surprise to the White House: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly canceled a trip to Washington by a high-level delegation that had specifically requested President Biden U.S. concerns over Israel’s plans for a major military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah were discussed in a conference call last week.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller’s reaction downplayed the administration’s shock, calling the cancellation “surprising and unfortunate.”

The remarkable turn of events has turned the growing rift between Biden and Netanyahu into a public chasm. Administration officials have rushed to insist that U.S. policy has not changed, that Israel’s Operation Rafah plan is not imminent in any way, that negotiations to release the hostages will continue, and that they look forward to future conversations with Netanyahu and his government.

Despite extensive consultations over the weekend and the Israeli leader’s lack of direct contact with Biden, Netanyahu claimed in a statement from his office after the vote that the United States “today abandoned its policy at the United Nations.” …Regrettably, the United States did not veto this new resolution, which called for a ceasefire but did not condition it on the release of the hostages. “This is a clear departure from the position of the United States,” the statement said.

The meeting was canceled — and a delegation led by Netanyahu’s senior strategist Ron Demer will not travel to Washington as planned.

The one-page resolution itself is an attempt to bridge the divisions that have left the Security Council – the main body for maintaining international peace and security – looking weak in its repeated efforts to stem the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. The United States has vetoed three previous ceasefire resolutions; a measure it proposed on Friday to link an immediate ceasefire to the release of hostages was vetoed by Russia and China.

Monday’s resolution was proposed by the body’s 10 non-permanent members, which represent the rest of the world except for the five countries – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – which have veto power.

Israel objects to much of the language, calling for the word “permanent” to be removed from the ceasefire language and insisting on demands for the release of Israelis held hostage Hamas Relevant to any cessation in combat. The United States shares the same concerns: it persuaded the sponsors to propose a “permanent” agreement and, at least in the same paragraph, called for a ceasefire and a separate release of the hostages.

The final version called for an “immediate ceasefire” to last at least until the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in two weeks, “leading to a lasting and sustainable” end to the fighting.

In the same lengthy sentence, it also demanded “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and ensuring humanitarian access.” It neither mentions Israel nor Hamas by name.

See also  Exclusive: Sources familiar with Intel say Russia is trying to develop space nuclear weapons to destroy satellites with massive energy waves

“We don’t agree with everything in the final document,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council. The United States still wants to explicitly condemn Hamas and establish a link between the release of the hostages and the ceasefire, and continues to pursue such links in ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

But eventually, Washington decided enough was enough.

Hours after the vote, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby sought to downplay bilateral tensions, telling reporters at the White House that the United States would continue to “support Israel” and push for the release of all hostages held by Hamas.

However, he called Netanyahu’s decision to cancel the delegation’s visit disappointing. “We’re a little bit confused by this,” said Kirby, who reiterated the government’s assertion that the abstention did not represent a change in policy. “The Prime Minister’s Office seems to have chosen to create a daylight feel here when they don’t need to.”

For Biden, who has a deep, visceral attachment to Israel and has been reluctant to break with Netanyahu, the breach marks the culmination of months of frustration. Biden and his top aides have supported Israel at nearly every critical moment since the outbreak of the war, which began when Hamas launched an attack on Oct. 7 that killed about 1,200 Israelis and captured at least 250 hostages.

The support continues despite Netanyahu’s open defiance of the United States on nearly every major issue, including the government’s desire to see the Palestinian Authority return to Gaza, a significant increase in humanitarian aid into the enclave and a path to a Palestinian state.

As Israel’s air and ground attacks in Gaza have killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, and hundreds of thousands more are on the verge of famine, and the international community is increasingly isolated, the US government has repeatedly refuted, supporting “Israeli’s right to self-defense” and continues to deliver weapons to Israel.

Frank Lowenstein, a former State Department official who helped lead Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 2014, said three main factors may have contributed to Monday’s events: Deep differences between Washington and Israel over a massive invasion of Rafah; There are more than 1 million Gazans in France. Already seeking shelter further north from Israeli attacks; disastrous humanitarian situation; new settlements announced by Israeli Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to the country on Friday.

“For months, Biden has gone to great lengths to avoid a massive public fight,” Lowenstein said. “This reflects a very serious shift in the White House’s stance on how to manage the Israelis for the remainder of this war. “Either Israelis start paying attention now, or we may continue down this path.”

Over the weekend, Israel said it would no longer allow UNRWA, the main U.N. aid agency in Gaza, to send any humanitarian supplies to the north. Despite private U.S. urging, Israel has refused to take steps to speed aid trucks in and out of Gaza, leading Biden to order U.S. troops to airdrop pallets of food and build a makeshift dock on the Gaza coast to begin delivering aid by sea. Humanitarian supplies.

The U.S. government is particularly angry about the aggressive activities of Israeli forces and settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank and the announcement of new settlements, which it calls illegal. White House officials told Israel the new construction would undermine Israel’s long-term security by further angering and radicalizing the Palestinian people and hindering the possibility of a two-state solution.

See also  Greek islands launch special visa program for Turkish tourists in diplomatic effort to calm regional situation

On Friday, as Blinken visited Tel Aviv to meet with Netanyahu and top aides, Israel announced its largest land seizure in the West Bank since 1993. This move was seen as a huge sign of disrespect. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich – who the United States considers along with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to be particularly problematic members of Netanyahu’s government – has expressed concern about the settlements Boast endlessly.

Marla Ruderman, who served as special envoy to the Middle East during the Obama administration, said that while the underlying relationship could withstand the latest spat, “the personal dynamics between Biden and Netanyahu are likely to be particularly tense,” suggesting that Israel Why leaders face growing calls for a leadership change.

“Geopolitical relationships, like personal relationships, go through tough times, even in the most committed marriages,” she said. “The United States and Israel are there now.”

Netanyahu also has a strained relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama, which was further exacerbated by the U.S. decision to abstain from a late 2016 UN Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements. Netanyahu angered White House officials last year when he traveled to Washington to deliver a joint address to Congress, slamming Obama for proposing a nuclear deal with Iran that bypassed traditional agreements.

The relationship with Biden, which goes back decades, is expected to be different. Biden, who often tells Netanyahu, “I love you, Bibi, even if I can’t stand you,” has long spoken about his history with Israel, dating back to his time as a senator. Still, he has faced intense political and international pressure in recent months to publicly break with Israel’s leaders and their far-right government.

The president has faced protesters at his political events and has faced continued pushback from voters in key states during this year’s presidential campaign. More than 100,000 voters marked their ballots as “uncommitted” during Michigan’s presidential primary, and many Arab-American voters said Biden lost their votes in November.

While some activists welcomed Monday’s U.N. Security Council vote, others called on Biden to further restrict U.S. arms transfers to Israel.

“We are pleased that the United States is no longer actively blocking calls for a ceasefire, but it is long past time for the Biden administration to use all its leverage—including halting arms transfers—to push for an immediate and lasting ceasefire, a hostage exchange, and substantial aid to Gaza,” Jewish America Eva Borgwardt, a spokesperson for the group IfNotNow, said the group opposes Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The effort is not limited to activists but also includes senior lawmakers within the president’s own party.Some, including Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), have used their platforms to Public suggestions that Netanyahu be replaced.

John Hudson contributed to this report.

Source link

By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *