No amount of presidential bluster or White House spin can disguise the fact that the Biden administration appears increasingly clueless about what to do about the war in Gaza. Having tied US policy to Israel’s war aims – specifically the destruction of Hamas – US president Joe Biden now finds himself in a tight spot as the death toll in Gaza continues to rise. It is not entirely his fault: backing Israel – both militarily and politically – is a longstanding pillar of US Middle East policy, regardless of which political party is in power. Biden was merely reaffirming this when he stood behind Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ in the wake of the Hamas terror arracks of 7 October. Washington insiders were convinced that such public and unconditional support was also the best means of maximising American influence behind the scenes.
That, unfortunately, isn’t quite how things have panned out. Israel has stuck to its stated goal of rooting out Hamas, even as the casualties mount: according to the Hamas-run health ministry, 17,000 people – including more than 10,000 women and children –have died in total over the past two months of the war. This has prompted growing calls for the White House to do more to restrain Israel. The response so far from the White House has been confused to say the least, leaving the administration looking like one more than a powerless bystander in the Middle East war.
Reports have begun to emerge that America is pressuring Israel to end its operation in Gaza and war against Hamas ‘in a month’. Antony Blinken, the American secretary of state, made it clear that Israel has until early January to wrap up its ground operation in Gaza.