President Biden embarked on a politically delicate journey to Israel, where he carefully balanced his support for the Jewish state while cautioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to exercise restraint in their response to the recent attack by Hamas. In an effort to prevent the conflict between Israel and Hamas from escalating further, Biden delivered a dual message to Middle Eastern leaders, emphasizing the U.S.’ commitment to protecting Israel while also addressing the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) October 19, 2023
Israel has already launched multiple airstrikes on Hamas targets as it prepares for a potentially violent ground war to dismantle the group’s operational base and eliminate its leadership. Biden, however, began his visit by affirming Israel’s claim that it was not responsible for the hospital explosion that resulted in numerous casualties. This stance garnered support from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner and Senator Marco Rubio, who both concurred with the U.S. intelligence assessment that Israel was not at fault.
Despite extending unwavering support to Israel, Biden’s visit was met with some skepticism from Arab regional leaders sympathetic to the Palestinians. Planned meetings with leaders from Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority were cancelled due to the intense backlash to the hospital bombing. As Biden addressed Israel’s war cabinet and pledged full U.S. support, he also issued a warning to not allow rage to consume their decision-making, drawing parallels to America’s response to the 9/11 attacks.
Demonstrating an effort to alleviate the situation, Biden facilitated the flow of limited aid to Gaza from Egypt, ensuring that it is restricted to food, water, and medicine, and does not reach Hamas. Additionally, he announced $100 million in new U.S. funding for humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank to support those displaced by the conflict. While Biden’s attempt to rein in Israel was partly influenced by his own political future and criticism of his unwavering support for the country, it remains to be seen if his efforts will prevent a regional war or merely serve as a prelude to one.