War in Middle East May Cost Joe Biden Election

Netanyahu’s government enjoys the full diplomatic support of America, but it is not listening to its demands on the war with Hamas or the future of the Gaza Strip.

With each passing day of the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, the world is forgetting about the large terrorist attack on Oct. 7, which resulted in the death of 1,200 people and 200 hostages. It is now shifting its attention to the thousands of Palestinian civilian casualties and the small Gaza territory being turned into rubble. The question is what are the limits to Israel’s right to defend itself.

Joe Biden’s administration knows this. Even a month ago, when the war was raging in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, it demanded that Israel reduce the scale of civilian suffering. Later, when Israel was preparing for an operation in the south, where thousands of refugees had moved, the Biden administration warned Israel not to conduct military operations in places where it would put civilians in so much danger — with no success.

Elections in the US. The Price of Supporting Israel

It looks like Biden has no influence on the way Israelis conduct the war, but in the eyes of a considerable part of the public, including in America, he is responsible for its outcome. Especially since, diplomatically, Washington — almost exclusively — is standing firmly by Benjamin Netanyahu’s side. The U.S.’ veto in the U.N. on the resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and unconditional release of hostages last Friday can be interpreted that way.

All of this may influence the outcome of a far more important political rivalry — not only for the U.S. — the presidential election next November, when Biden will be running against Donald Trump for reelection to the White House.

Biden may pay with defeat for the war in the Middle East. Nationwide, opinion polls already show Trump leading Biden. This, given the electoral system, would not necessarily mean defeat if the current president wins in all the states that supported him in 2020. But in a few of them, where he barely won, the so-called swing states, the attitude to the war in Gaza may prove decisive. This is especially true in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where there are relatively large communities of Arabs and Muslims, who are usually sympathetic to the Palestinians.

What about Gaza? Divergent Perspectives of Israel and the US

It is in Biden’s best interest to end this war as soon as possible — certainly before the election campaign begins in January, lest the photos of Palestinian children pulled from under the rubble become a major part of it. The White House representatives say that it cannot go on for “months,” and that is how long it would probably take to achieve Israel’s goal of total eradication of Hamas.

Netanyahu’s best interest is quite the opposite. He wants the war to drag on as long as possible because it looks like the end of the war is the end of his rule, and [means] facing accountability for the negligence that allowed Hamas to carry out the bloodiest attack in the history of Israel.

Israel and the U.S. also have different views of Gaza’s future after the defeat of Hamas. Netanyahu himself no longer speaks of resettling Palestinians from the Strip, but other, more radical Israeli politicians are doing it more and more openly. Photos of thousands of people being pushed into neighboring Egypt would not help Biden’s bid for reelection.

Netanyahu denies that his goal is to re-occupy Gaza, and that is how the statement he made last month on one of the U.S. TV networks was interpreted. Instead, he proposes creating a buffer zone, which would mean a reduction of the Palestinian territory, which is already very small. Creating a new map unfavorable to Palestinians would make the prospect of creating a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one (a two-state solution), which Biden officially supports, even less likely in the future.

Americans think that after the war, Gaza must have Palestinian leadership. Still, it’s not clear what kind since today’s Palestinian Authority, based in Ramallah on the West Bank, is considered incapable of doing so. The search for a suitable candidate is ongoing, and the name of the former Palestinian prime minister, the moderate Salam Fayyad, has been mentioned. However, as reported by Axios, the well-informed U.S. website, Netanyahu has yet again rejected the idea of giving the Palestinian Authority control over the Gaza Strip.

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