Are Israel and the United States on a collision course? (DANIEL BRUMBERG, DEC 16, 2023, Responsible Statecraft)
In a December 8 story that seems to have received little attention in western press coverage of Israel’s expanding military campaign in Gaza was this nugget of information: Israel’s military expects combat operations to continue until the end of January, “followed by a three-to-nine-month lower grade insurgency.” Reported by the Jerusalem Post, an English daily whose correspondents appear to have good ties to the Israel Defense Forces, this prediction likely rang alarm bells in the Biden administration. The White House is well aware of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to do whatever it takes to “destroy” Hamas. But beyond doubting that this goal is feasible, US officials likely have concluded that Israel is not capable of pursuing its campaign in Gaza without killing many more Palestinian civilians, or is not ready to do so. With the threat of disease and starvation growing as Gazans flee to the south in a nearly hopeless search for safety, the prospect of a major crisis in US-Israel relations is growing. Thus while Israeli leaders applauded the White House’s veto of last week’s United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, they know that the Biden administration supports a wider political and diplomatic approach that Israel’s current government—as Netanyahu has stated—totally rejects.
On December 12, President Joe Biden showed clear dissatisfaction with the Israeli government and Netanyahu. In remarks to donors, Biden reportedly said that Israel is losing support around the world because of how it is conducting the Gaza war. He also reportedly said that Netanyahu “has to change” and that the Prime Minister rejects the two-state solution on which the president has staked his approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.