08.04.2024 Author: Viktor Mikhin

The Duplicitous US Policy on the Gaza Massacre

The Duplicitous US Policy on the Gaza Massacre

The incessant waves of the brutal and ruthless Israeli war, or rather the Palestinian massacre in the Gaza Strip, now in its sixth month, have finally reached Washington. It happened in Congress in an event that took many by surprise and deepened the rift between the two major political parties. It is well known that the Congress has been one of Israel’s main bulwarks for decades, providing political support for Israeli policy on many fronts. This includes the Arab-Israeli conflict, the creeping annexation of the occupied West Bank, and the illegal siege that successive Israeli governments have imposed on Gaza since 2007.

Chuck Schumer’s speech on Netanyahu’s policy

However, on March 14, prominent Jewish American Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat, New York), the Senate majority leader, broke with long-standing tradition and delivered a sharp criticism from the Senate floor against the Israeli government led by the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He apparently took Israel, as well as the political establishment in Washington and the US media, by surprise when he called Netanyahu an “obstacle to peace” in the region, commenting on how Israel is conducting military operations in Gaza and blocking humanitarian aid to starving Palestinian civilians.

Schumer said Netanyahu “has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel,” causing support for Israel around the world to plummet to historic lows. He also criticized Israel’s ruling coalition government for the same reasons. “The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7. The world has changed — radically — since then, and the Israeli people are being stifled right now by a governing vision that is stuck in the past,” he said, adding that after five months of war, “it is clear that Israelis need to take stock of the situation and ask: Must we change course?” According to the US Senator, at this critical juncture, new elections are the only way to ensure a healthy and open decision-making process about Israel’s future, while so many Israelis have lost confidence in the vision for the direction of their government.

It is rare that a US Senator, especially a Democrat from New York, has spoken so boldly and sharply about the Israeli government. And of course, the speech provoked a storm of indignation. Senator Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky), the Senate minority leader, went on the offensive, attacking Schumer and expressing extreme prejudice and unfettered support for Israel. In his view, the main obstacles to peace are “genocidal terrorists such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” as well as corrupt PA leaders who have repeatedly rejected the peace agreements of several Israeli governments.

It is interesting that according to the New York Times, Schumer called US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan the day before his speech to ask if achieving a temporary pause in military operations in Gaza, releasing hostages and allowing more humanitarian aid into Gaza would jeopardize ongoing negotiations. J. Sullivan, in his characteristic cowboy manner, replied that “there would be no problem.” What is really going on in Gaza, the National Security Advisor can best learn from the world’s media, which daily print heartbreaking reports of Palestinian old men, women and children dying of starvation.

No Fundamental Disagreement Between Biden and Netanyahu

In the context of the palpable differences between US President Joe Biden and Netanyahu that have been building up over the past month, the position taken by the Senator from New York is not much different from that of the White House and Biden on how Israel is handling the war in Gaza and what will happen after the war comes to an end. This reflects some of the frustration the administration has had with Netanyahu’s verbal rejection of the two-state solution. In fact, Biden and his administration are committed to preventing the creation of an independent Palestinian state, and therein they stand in solidarity with Israel’s leadership.

Another fact confirming this position, i.e. the unconditional US support for Israel, is the statement of White House spokesman John Kirby on March 15. In particular, he indirectly conveyed an encouraging message to Israel, as well as to its supporters in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, that the Biden administration is “going to keep supporting Israel.” He said, “We’re going to keep urging them to reduce civilian casualties, and we’re going to keep working to get a temporary ceasefire in place.”

However, no one has yet seen an American plan for a ceasefire in Gaza. Moreover, on the same day, news from Israel indicated that Netanyahu had approved plans to attack Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The US administration said it could not support such an attack in the absence of a “credible and implementable” plan to save hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians in Rafah from danger. Although the Israelis said they had such a plan, on March 15 the same White House announced that it had not seen it. It is interesting to wonder what the US position will be when the Israeli army launches its offensive in Rafah and thousands of innocent civilians are killed as a result, in addition to the 31,000 Palestinians in Gaza who have already been killed and the more than 71,000 who have been wounded since last October. One should not expect much from the Biden administration. Perhaps there will be minor restrictions on arms exports to Israel, and perhaps the US will, as usual, abstain from voting on the draft resolution to be introduced in the UN Security Council calling for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza.

In his speech, Schumer said, and many Americans fully agree with him, that the world has changed “radically” since last October. However, unwavering US support for Israel did not affect this change. The relationship between the US and Israel, on the one hand, and Arab countries, on the other, also does not reflect the changing world and the transformed regional scene in light of Israel’s barbaric assault on the Palestinian people in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

While hosting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at the White House on March 15, Biden agreed with his Irish guest in Washington to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on March 17. At the same time, the US President pompously declared that he wanted a quick ceasefire in Gaza to deliver food and medicine to the Strip and to free Israeli hostages. As the saying goes, it is hard to credit now, though fresh is its renown. The facts and life itself will show how sincere the administration and Biden himself are in wanting to achieve such a result in the coming months in a very difficult election cycle in the United States.


Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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