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Israel-Gaza situation has Biden facing bipartisan criticism

Israel-Gaza situation has Biden facing bipartisan criticism
Israel-Gaza situation has Biden facing bipartisan criticism | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week.

Of course, the Middle East is leading our concerns and the headlines right now. There is no deal despite Bill Burns, the most respected senior interlocutor the United States has to offer, director of the CIA, making a last-ditch effort last week in the region, including Israel, to try to get everyone to agree to a short-term cease-fire, in return for significant numbers of hostages being released. Did not happen. Lots of reasons for that. One is because it's hard to talk with Hamas, engage with Hamas. It is a terrorist organization. A lot of people refuse to negotiate with terrorists. And also because, by the time you get a message through to the leadership, it takes usually a minimum of a week, sometimes two, and things change quickly.

Secondly, Israel did not want any ambiguity on what was going to happen after the six weeks of the cease-fire. Prime Minister Netanyahu in particular, saying that they were going to go into Rafah, that they were going to continue and destroy the remaining battalions that Hamas has available to them on the ground in Gaza while the Americans were trying to say, “well, if you've certain further agreements were met, then it could extend and could become permanent. And that was the only way that Hamas was going to agree.” Well, the Israeli government didn't want that, particularly because the government would collapse in all likelihood. It would be very hard for the Prime Minister to maintain the support of his far-right coalition if he were to accept that in a deal. So he did his best to scuttle it.

And also, the fact that the United States pushing Israel as hard as they did publicly, gives Hamas more wiggle room, more support from the international community, more alignment with the international community, to say no. So now, the or else is that Israel is going in. What had been just the capture of the border controls, allowing in humanitarian aid, limited amounts be coming in is now going to become a full-fledged ground invasion.

Some 300,000 Palestinians of the 1.2 to 1.5 million that have been sheltering in Rafah have evacuated into areas with very limited facilities and aid, but certainly better than facing the onslaught which is coming. More will certainly evacuate, not enough to make the Americans comfortable, not including fighting age males among the Palestinians, irrespective of whether they are or not believed to be Hamas.

And there will not be adequate humanitarian support for those, either that have evacuated or those that remain there, which means this is breaching the red line as defined by President Biden, his administration, telling Israel do not attack Rafah or else. The or else at a minimum, being that the United States is going to boycott provision of offensive weapons, that would be used in these Rafah attacks. Biden spoke about that in an interview with Erin Burnett. probably not the way it should have been announced, really should have been a well prepared speech about US policy towards Israel, ideally should have been coordinated with American allies. Look, at the end of the day, when the war started, the US was not aligned on Israel policy with all of its allies out there. Increasingly today it is, with the entirety of the G7 and with allies in the Gulf, in the Middle East, and a US policy like its policy on Ukraine, where the US is leading but is coordinating security policy with everyone, is a much stronger policy than one where the Americans are by themselves. Biden is now in a position where he's increasingly by himself internationally, and he's also increasingly by himself at home.

This decision to cut off the Israelis from some of these offensive weapons opposed strongly by the entire Republican Party, certainly by Trump, even by people like Senator Mitt Romney, also by a number of independents and centrists on the Democratic right. At the same time, the left of the Democratic Party strongly opposed to Biden for continuing to support Israel, defend Israel, provide lots of military capabilities and intelligence in response to what they believe is a genocidal policy on the ground in Gaza.

So this is no man's land for Biden. This is going to hurt, and it's going to hurt at a time that Netanyahu is not going anywhere. He has looked stronger, certainly stronger in his ability to lead a defense of Israel against the 300 plus missiles and drones that were struck against it by Iran. Not a single Israeli military casualty there, but also not going anywhere because as long as this war on Gaza continues in a significant way, it is hard to call for a new election on the ground in Israel. Which means that when we're looking ahead to November, this Israeli government is very likely in place. Opposition of this Israeli government to Biden is growing more public. The Israelis saying they need to go it alone, which is certainly not what's happening. The reality is there's massive intelligence support, military support, defensive support continuing from the United States. But politically, it plays very strongly for the Prime Minister to say, I am the guy who is ensuring that we Israel are defended against Hamas, defended against Gaza, defended against an Iranian-led axis of terror across the region.

And that also means that this fighting is continuing in this US election cycle with more proxy attacks with over 100,000 Israeli citizens that continue to be evacuated from the north of the country, that's the equivalent of 4 million Americans. Imagine how important that would be in a post 9/11 environment, with them still not being able to live in their homes, have their children in their schools, all those things. That is an issue that certainly the Israeli government intends to address before the school year starts in September, which is of course before the US election in November. So a lot of ways that this gets a lot worse. And that's even before we talk about the potential for Iran-Israel to heat up again, before we talk about significant accidents from Iranian proxies to get through and kill American soldiers, on the ground in the region.

And of course, potential for terrorist activity, Islamic extremist terrorist activity gone way up on the back of all of this. So not great news. The worst week in the Middle East War for the United States, since it started back in October. And also the most challenging week for peace and stability in the Middle East.


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