Biden’s Rising Tension With Israel

T. Belman. Its good to see the WSJ is on our side.

The IDF takes grave risks to satisfy the U.S. President’s demands on how to fight in Gaza.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ  Dec. 14, 2023 6:31 pm ET

Israeli troops conduct military operations in the Gaza Strip, Dec. 5. PHOTO: XIN HUA/ZUMA PRESS

President Biden made headlines by declaring on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has to change.” As is typical with the President, his subsequent remarks were hard to follow, but many heard them as a call for a new Israeli government coalition willing to jump-start a two-state solution.

It isn’t Mr. Biden’s place to pick Israel’s leaders. Instead, he could try listening to Israelis about the risks of empowering a Palestinian Authority (PA) that has refused to condemn the Hamas massacre. Or he could listen to Palestinians, 72% of whom believe Hamas was right to launch its Oct. 7 attack, according to a new poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. That figure rises to 82% among West Bank Palestinians, who are ruled by the PA, not Hamas.

Mohammad Shtayyeh, the prime minister of the PA, said Sunday that “Hamas is an integral part of the Palestinian mosaic.” The problem is that this is true. That’s why no one in his right mind in Israel thinks of creating a Palestinian state today. Hamas doesn’t want a two-state solution; it wants the final solution.

Israelis are focused on defeating Hamas, a goal the U.S. shares. Mr. Biden was right to say Tuesday that “nobody on God’s green Earth can justify what Hamas did. They’re a brutal, ugly, inhumane people, and they have to be eliminated.” He was also right to stand up for Israel at the United Nations, where the international herd demands a cease-fire.

Israel fights on because it has no other choice if it wants to survive as a state. But many nations see these U.N. votes as consequence-free gestures for peace or solidarity. That a cease-fire now would mean a Hamas victory and the death of Israeli deterrence, bringing on the next massacre and the next war, doesn’t concern them.

Israelis know Mr. Biden is under pressure from the Democratic Party left to stop Israel’s Gaza operation, and they are making sacrifices to satisfy him. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that the Israeli campaign “we saw in northern Gaza not be repeated in the south,” and Israel has complied. It is now telegraphing its attacks to the enemy so civilians can flee, and it is using a smaller force with less reliance on air power and artillery.

As a result, Israel is taking more casualties. Ten soldiers were killed Tuesday. That follows five Monday and seven Sunday for a total of 445, including Oct. 7.

The rising fatality rate is noticed in Israel, if nowhere else. In a video making the rounds, an infantry officer protests in Hebrew: “How can it be that an area isn’t cleared from the air before allowing our soldiers to enter?” Israel did that earlier in the war, he says, but now “our fire power is being restrained because our leaders may have started prioritizing the enemy’s lives over the lives of our soldiers.” A petition by soldiers’ mothers makes a similar point.

Israel gets little credit for its sacrifices. Mr. Biden even criticized it Tuesday for “indiscriminate bombing,” a slander so belied by the evidence that the White House tried to walk it back. Civilian casualties in Gaza are tragic, but they are mainly a result of Hamas’s way of embedding in what should be safe civilian spaces. The U.S. military also couldn’t avoid civilian casualties against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq, or other post-9/11 engagements. The U.S. doesn’t bomb indiscriminately either.

Facilitating the transfer of fuel and aid to Gaza also hasn’t stopped U.S. criticism. On Oct. 18 Mr. Biden said, “If Hamas diverts or steals the assistance, they will have demonstrated once again that they have no concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, and it will end.” Really? Hamas theft, some of it caught on video, is so blatant and pervasive that Gazans denounce it publicly. Still, Israel keeps aid flowing, and the U.S. has pressured it to open another crossing to let in even more.

Israel has no good choices here, but America does. The President can focus on supporting a U.S. ally in vanquishing a genocidal enemy.

December 15, 2023 | 1 Comment »

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