Failure in Gaza: Biden and Netanyahu… Who will leave First?

New tension is emerging in U.S.-Israeli relations, manifested in the public calls by President Biden to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cease the war in Gaza.

New tension is emerging in U.S.-Israeli relations, manifested in the public calls by President Biden to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cease the war in Gaza and form a “more moderate” Zionist government that accepts the principle of a “two-state solution,” which has become the only option capable, perhaps, of ending this historic conflict from the American perspective.

The American invitation is driven by the concern for Israel’s interests, especially since President Biden was the first U.S. president to visit Israel while it was engaged in a war against the Palestinians. Despite the unwavering U.S. support for the Netanyahu government since the start of the Operation Guardian of the Walls, it did not earn Biden any favors. Netanyahu criticized the United States for its crimes and human rights violations in Germany, Japan, and other countries.

The important thing is that U.S.-Israeli disagreements are now in the open, although many of us recognize that they were present throughout Biden’s presidency. His relationship with Netanyahu was perhaps the worst due to Netanyahu’s extremist policies and his insistence on pursuing judicial reforms despite American criticism, as they posed a challenge to “the democratic system in Israel.”

The absolute American support for Israel after Operation Guardian of the Walls was not an American interest as much as it was a personal electoral interest for President Biden and his party. However, this was tied to the factor of time and ensuring that the war does not expand to include other countries.

This support was necessarily based on Biden’s conviction of the importance of Israel’s existence as an arm of the United States in the region, which is used to implement its strategy in the Middle East.

This strategy was based on three components: oil security, security of international waterways (trade routes), and the security of Israel. Israel’s security is now a thing of the past after Operation Guardian of the Walls, and trade routes are threatened by the actions of the Houthi supporters in Yemen against anything related to the Zionist entity and its supporters. Consequently, oil security is also under threat at any moment due to the possibility of closing these passages, which means the abysmal failure of the U.S. strategy in the Middle East.

This is accompanied by the major Israeli failure resulting from raising the demands at the beginning of the war, making talk of an imminent end to the war a fantasy. This is due to the consecration of Israel’s defeat and the accountability of the Israeli Prime Minister and the rest of his government officials that would follow, thereby forcing them to continue the war and seek to expand it if possible.

Will Biden Succeed in Pressuring Netanyahu?

Historically, Democratic presidents have been more inclined towards the idea of a two-state solution, but they have not been able to pressure successive Israeli governments to accept that vision. This is due to several considerations, most notably the American presidents’ need for and reliance on support from the Zionist lobby (organized and influential in shaping American voters’ attitudes), given the Jews’ control of important levers in American media and their financial contributions to American presidential campaigns.

While the United States has been the biggest supporter of Israel, it has not been able to exert pressure on it, as demonstrated during several administrations. When President Clinton tried to pressure Israel into accepting the idea of a two-state solution, the Zionist lobby was able to sideline him due to the “Monica” scandal, which came to symbolize Clinton’s political life.

When Obama attempted to pressure Israel, he was met with great audacity by Netanyahu, who, at the time, was the Israeli prime minister. Netanyahu accepted an invitation from the U.S. Congress and delivered a speech there without visiting President Obama.

Today, in the presence of an extremist Zionist government, backed by a popular mood within the Zionist entity calling for the restoration of “Israel’s dignity” and the crushing of the Hamas movement, which they now find impossible to coexist with in the future, President Biden’s ability to compel Netanyahu to halt the war seems limited.

The American pressure arises from an understanding of the dangerous situation in the region, which is witnessing a process of reshuffling the cards with unpredictable results.

The American talk of Israel’s international isolation, a result of its continued massacres against the Palestinian people, reflects the scale of the vote on the recent resolution in the United Nations General Assembly, which was supported by 153 countries out of 193, calling on Israel to stop the war in Gaza.

153 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while only 10 countries opposed it, including Israel, the United States, Austria, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, and Paraguay. Consequently, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution with a majority of 153 members in favor, 10 against, and 23 abstentions.

In contrast, the previous resolution discussed by the General Assembly on October 27 had received a majority of 120 votes, indicating a shift in the international stance towards the war.

Israel’s Priority for the United States

Despite American support for both Ukraine and Taiwan, which aligns with the United States’ strategy to contain both Russia and China, the U.S. has not sent fleets to Ukraine to deter Russia or to the South China Sea to deter China from invading Taiwan.

However, when it comes to Israel, historically, American military presence has been the most intensive in the Middle East region, reflecting Israel’s special importance to the United States.

The continuation of the war and the absence of a foreseeable end to it have led to threats not only against President Biden and his party but have also tarnished the “American reputation.” This reputation is of a nation that has long stood as a model for many countries and peoples and has been the foundation of its soft power, which has made the American dream a reality for many decades.

Ending the war has become the only inevitable gateway to preserving what remains of American prestige. Ending the war means Israel’s defeat and entering negotiations with Hamas, which has clearly outlined its conditions, primarily the release of all Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Israeli settlers (all for all).

Israel’s defeat would entail holding Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government officials accountable, making it unlikely for Netanyahu to accept the American request. This raises the possibility of a silent confrontation between the two countries.

American talk about Netanyahu’s role in undermining the Zionist society and dividing it through judicial reforms, his alignment with the far-right in his government, and his disruption of the Zionist military institution, along with other accusations that suggest the United States is seeking to oust him as a solution to end the Gaza war.

It seems that it is no longer in Biden’s hands, nor his government, as the deep state in the United States must prioritize American interests over Biden and his party’s interests and even over Israel’s interests if necessary.

The interest of all parties now lies in getting rid of Netanyahu from power. However, Netanyahu will spare no effort to defend himself, relying on the Zionist lobby in the United States.

Will this lobby succeed in creating a crisis for Biden that might prevent him from completing the remainder of his presidential term, especially since he is not on solid ground, with many scandals and suspicions surrounding him and his son Hunter?

The question remains: Who will leave their position first, the defeated and faltering Netanyahu, or the vengeful Zionist Biden, whose unwavering support for Israel threatens the United States’ strategic interests?

Shaher Al Shaher
Shaher Al Shaher
Associate Professor School of International Studies Sun Yat-Sen University/ China Professor at the Faculty of Political Science - University of Damascus (previously)