The conflict between Israel and Palestine groups in Gaza is territorial in a small area, yet it reverberates far beyond the region. The United States in the lead, but also neighboring countries such as Jordan and Egypt, play an important role. How big is it right? What do they have to gain or lose? And can they silence the weapons? An overview.
The administration of US President Joe Biden supports the idea of a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian groups in Gaza, but does not go so far as to urge Israel to do so. The radical Islamist movement Hamas has been strongly condemned for “indiscriminately firing rockets at civilians”. Arab countries such as Egypt and Qatar, meanwhile, are trying behind the scenes to put pressure on Hamas and the other armed groups in Gaza to at least temporarily stop the fighting. Will there be a file? And who can and wants to enforce that?
“A ceasefire would be good, but see when you can”
In plain language, that’s pretty much the latest US message to the Israeli government – carefully wrapped in the latest announcement on the White House website about President Biden’s phone call yesterday with Israeli Acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A little clearer was Biden’s Foreign Minister Blinken at a press conference in Denmark. “Ultimately, it is up to the parties involved to make it clear that they want to reach a ceasefire. But we are ready to support that.”
At the same time, Blinken unequivocally condemned the actions of Hamas. “You cannot equate a terrorist group that fires missiles at civilians indiscriminately with a country that protects its citizens from those attacks.” He did point out that Israel bears a responsibility to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, all the more so because the country is a democracy – said Blinken.
According to many critics of Israel and of American Middle East policy, this is still not a neutral or balanced position, but amounts to a call on Hamas to unilaterally lay down its weapons – after which Israel is gently asked to can do the same. Some even read it as safe conduct for Netanyahu to continue bombing Gaza for as long as he sees fit.
Joe Biden’s hesitant stance may surprise and arouse unease in left-progressive circles, where the Palestinian cause can usually count on more sympathy. The criticism also comes from Biden’s own Democratic ranks. This has to do with the growing influence of the left wing in the party, but also with the growing number of Muslims living in the US – now more than 1 percent of the American population.
Yet ties between Democrats and Israel have weakened relatively, and those between Republicans and right-wing Israeli parties have only grown. The evangelical Christians who stand firmly behind Israel, almost all lean towards the Republican camp. And criticism of Israel is growing in Biden’s own rank and file. In short: electorally it is becoming less and less important for Biden to talk to Israel in everything