After eleven days of Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip, more than 200 Palestinians were killed, nearly 2,000 wounded and the territory ruined, Joe Biden “congratulated” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on “the decision to end the current hostilities “. .
The President of the United States has clashed unprecedented criticism for not demanding an immediate ceasefire to end Israel’s devastating bombing campaign, rather than publishing what rights activists called milquetoast statements reaffirming Washington’s unequivocal support for Israel.
But despite that pressure, Biden stayed on the message in his first comments ever since a ceasefire was announced on Thursday, stressing once again that “the United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself from indiscriminate rocket attacks.”
Now, as Palestinians in Gaza – living under a brutal blockade in one of the most densely populated places on earth – try to rebuild, experts say the Biden administration hopes the Israeli-Palestinian issue will fall again in the back political priorities.
“When Biden took office, the issue of Israel-Palestine was nowhere on the agenda. He assumed like many other people that the conflict didn’t really matter, it wasn’t a problem, [that] Basically, Israel can continue to do what it’s doing, and we don’t need to look at it, ”Nader Hashemi, director of the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies, told Al Jazeera before the fire was reached.
“Of course, the big question here is what happens the next day? What is Biden’s plan? There is no plan. “
When the Israeli army launched attacks in Gaza on May 10, an issue that the Biden administration hoped to “prioritize” amid other more pressing issues (recovery of COVID-19, racial justice, talks on Iran ) was put in the international spotlight.
For days, the US president and his senior officials reaffirmed Israel’s “right to defend itself” while blaming directly on Hamas, which had launched a rain of rockets against Israel. The Palestinian faction, which rules Gaza, said it began firing in response Israeli attacks on the Palestinians of occupied East Jerusalem.
When the number of Palestinian casualties increased and the Israeli bombing destroyed buildings throughout the territory, including a tower that housed the media offices Al Jazeera and The Associated Press: Calls to action, especially from the Biden administration, increased. Thousands of people reunited to U.S. cities demanding an end to Israeli attacks and U.S. lawmakers he spoke against what they saw as Biden’s complicit silence, a long time Israel to defend.
Today, the president spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, and condemned the indiscriminate attacks on Israel. . pic.twitter.com/baHWh1b6Q2
– The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 15, 2021
Biden administration officials had he insisted they worked behind the scenes to end the violence. But also the US locked several attempts by the United Nations Security Council to issue a statement demanding a ceasefire. And, during the Gaza attacks, the Washington Post reported that the Biden administration planned to sell $ 735 million in arms to the Israelis, in addition to the $ 3.8 billion military aid Washington gives to Israel every year.
“[US Secretary of State Antony Blinken] he said the Biden administration’s strategy is to make Israel feel safer, more comfortable, in the hope that when it does, it will be willing to make concessions to the Palestinians and be a more reasonable partner in peace. ” , said Hashemi.
“All of this sounds nice, warm, and diffuse, but in fact, the record shows that it’s exactly the opposite: that the more Israel is surrounded, supported, sustained, the more belligerent and uncompromising it will be for Israel to make concessions.”
Ask for responsibility
On May 17, eight days after the Israeli offensive, Biden said for the first time that “expressed his support for a ceasefire ”in a phone call with Netanyahu. Biden then told Netanyahu on Wednesday that he was “expecting a major escalation … on the way to ceasefire.”
A day later, the end of the violence was announced; at least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, had been killed and more than 1,500 injured in Gaza, while tens of thousands of Palestinians were interned displaced. Twelve people, including two children, died in Israel.
“The Biden administration’s policies have been horrible and despicable and make the United States 100% complicit in Israel’s massacres and atrocities against the Palestinians,” said Josh Ruebner, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
Ruebner told Al Jazeera that while it was positive, the Biden administration eventually backed the ceasefire, “it wasn’t that they suddenly developed some kind of moral backbone,” but that responding to political pressure on the streets of the United States and progressive Democrats.
“All this political pressure is what has been effective in bringing the Biden administration to a better position, but this kind of pressure needs to be maintained now so that there are responsibilities after the ceasefire,” he said. , urging a US arms embargo on Israel and additional charges in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Palestinian rights groups have instat an independent investigation into the Israeli bombings in Gaza that flattened residential homes, as well as media organizations and targeted journalists.
In the U.S., even before the Israeli offensive in Gaza began, lawmakers had begun to do so. questioning U.S. annual military assistance to Israel. But the vast majority of members of Congress continue to support unconditional aid to Israel, and Biden insists the US-Israel relationship is iron-clad.
Nevertheless, the proposed $ 735 million arms deal drew general criticism from progressive lawmakers, including Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. forward a resolution Wednesday that sought to block the transfer. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders too introduced a similar resolution in this chamber on Thursday.
“It is inconsiderable that even as Israel uses U.S. weapons to target children, journalists, medical workers, and others, the U.S. is sending them more weapons to carry out this violence,” Khury Petersen-Smith said. Middle East member Michael Ratner at the Institute of Policy A study group told Al Jazeera about the sale.
Ruebner said “the pressure that Congress will put on will continue to push the Biden administration in the way it should go, no matter where it wants to go” on Israeli-Palestinian policy. However, he warned that the US could try to restart “peace talks” between Israelis and Palestinians, while remaining in a place of global solidarity with Palestine.
“Things will not be resolved through negotiations,” Ruebner said. “Things will be resolved through the imposition of sanctions, through accountability for Israel’s war crimes, through the isolation of Israel. a state of apartheid and be treated accordingly. That way, things will move toward a resolution, not back to fruitless negotiations. “
“We want liberation”
Meanwhile, Palestinian advocates urge people to keep up the pressure and consider new tactics to defend Palestinian rights.
Mohammed el-Kurd, a Palestinian living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, whose family is one of several facing forced displacement to make way for Jewish settlers, said in early this month that the government’s condemnation is not enough.
“I think it’s time for governments to sanction Israel,” al-Kurd said during a roundtable at the Middle East Institute on May 10th. “I don’t think it’s a scandalous request that Israel be punished for the atrocities it has committed against the Palestinians. I think this is the next step.”
Yara Asi, a non-resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington DC, also said that the idea that things will “return to calm” after the ceasefire in Gaza has been reached is dangerous since the oppression of Israel to the Palestinians.
“At the [past US] statements, he felt “a return to calm, a return to peace,” but unfortunately it was not quiet and it was not peace. This is not what we do [Palestinians] to want; we want liberation. We want human rights. We want full equality, “Asi told Al Jazeera.
“It seems that this is always shown again when there are images of terrible bombings and children at the autopsy tables. If we do not want to see these images, we must remain committed. We have to show that this is a global priority or it will go to waste. “