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May 19, 2024

Biden Takes Tougher Stance With Israel Amid Mounting Gaza Deaths

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Dec 13, 2023

President Biden has issued his strongest public rebuke yet of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, warning that he could not defend the bombing of civilians and that the country risked losing international backing for its operations.

Speaking on Tuesday, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expected a “significant de-escalation” from Israel’s bombing campaign targeting Hamas militants in Gaza. While reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself, Biden said he did not believe Israel’s actions were a “proportionate” response.

Key Developments

  • Biden administration privately tells Israel it expects major de-escalation in bombing campaign within days (Axios)
  • Tougher stance from Biden reflects growing alarm within his administration over rising Palestinian civilian deaths and critical international response (New York Times)
  • Netanyahu remains defiant, insists military campaign will continue as long as necessary and Israel has “full backing” from Biden administration (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Security Council votes for ceasefire resolution, with US abstaining instead of vetoing in shift of position (Guardian)
Key Figures
Israeli deaths: 15 Palestinian deaths: 200+
Israeli injuries: 300+ Palestinian injuries: 1,500+

Escalating Tensions

The latest tensions come after months of rising violence and tit-for-tat attacks between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza. In recent weeks, tensions were further inflamed by an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank that killed 10 Palestinians along with regular rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes.

Last week saw the deadliest fighting yet as Israel unleashed a massive aerial bombardment campaign targeting Gaza’s militant leadership and infrastructure in response to persistent rocket attacks from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel says the bombing aims to degrade militant capabilities and deter future attacks, but the UN warns strikes are causing severe civilian casualties that may constitute war crimes.

Biden’s Shifting Position

While Biden has firmly defended Israel’s right to self-defense throughout the crisis, his latest statements mark a clear departure from his initial stance. Last week, Biden emphasized Israel’s prerogative to defend itself and did not criticize its bombing campaign.

Analysts say domestic political factors are likely influencing Biden’s evolving position. As civilian deaths in Gaza continue to mount, Biden is facing growing calls from top Democrats and the international community to push Israel to end hostilities.

There are also fears within his administration that explicit US backing for Israeli actions could further damage America’s credibility in the Muslim world and empower extremist groups. With sagging approval ratings, Biden cannot afford to appear indifferent to Palestinian suffering.

International Pushback Mounts

Criticism of Israeli actions is growing on the world stage even as Netanyahu remains defiant. The UN Security Council voted on Tuesday for a ceasefire resolution, with the US significantly abstaining instead of vetoing in a notable shift of position.

major US allies like Canada and Europe have also stepped up calls for Israel to halt bombing. There is a sense Israel’s actions lack proportionality and are severely exacerbating humanitarian suffering in Gaza, already in dire economic straits due to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade in place since Hamas took over the territory in 2007.

What Next?

With over 200 Palestinians dead, Biden is demanding Israel wrap up major offensive operations shortly. But there is still no clear path to de-escalation.

Netanyahu insists the bombing will continue as long as necessary, though some Israeli officials privately want to wind down within days to avoid further international condemnation.

There are also no signs yet Hamas and other Gaza militant factions will agree to stand down rocket attacks. Israel is wary of halting strikes before achieving long-term deterrence against rocket fire targeting its civilians. It also opposes growing calls to strengthen the role of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza’s administration.

The path ahead remains unclear, but Biden’s tougher rhetoric signals he is less willing to provide Israel blanket diplomatic protection as Palestinian civilian deaths mount. While insisting US ties remain ironclad, the White House wants the campaign wrapped up quickly to contain growing international backlash.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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