Written by Jack Elbaum
What’s happening: President Joe Biden’s public support of Israel is beginning to wane as the Israel-Hamas war enters its second month.
Why it matters: While Biden has, on the whole, been quite supportive of Israel, the steps he is pressuring Israel to take could give Hamas opportunities to regroup and prolong the war.
- Private pressure: Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been urging the Israelis to agree to a “humanitarian pause” so more aid could enter Gaza as well as provide time for the possible release of hostages. Israel already lifted its total siege and reinstated internet connection in Gaza.
- Context: A humanitarian pause is different from a ceasefire because it is designed to be temporary.
Why the change? Biden’s shift in approach to Israel is likely due to significant civilian casualties, compounded by pressure from Muslim voters and White House staffers, U.S. Diplomats, far-left members of his party, and the international community.
- Not new: It has long been a feature of the U.S.-Israel relationship to fully support Israel in public while putting significant pressure on it in private to make certain concessions, deals, and steps toward peace.
The kicker: Biden, like Obama, has long wanted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of office. Netanyahu’s right-wing efforts, including overhauling Israel’s judicial system, plunged the country into strife and controversy — partially fueled by Biden.
- Now, Biden expects he may be ousted soon over criticism he failed to prevent the Hamas attack. Slowing the war efforts, or pushing for an eventual ceasefire, could expedite the path to Netanyahu's ouster.
- Unprecedented: During a recent phone call, Biden even asked him what kind of lessons he would share with his successor.