Israel-Palestine is once again a US priority
President of the United States Joe BidenThe announcement of the May 20 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas seems to be the beginning of a deeper U.S. commitment to the Middle East.
Washington was left behind by an unforeseen conflict, amid other foreign and national policy priorities.
But it was inevitable. Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched more than 4,300 rockets from Gaza into Israel and killed 12 people, including two children. In Gaza, 243 people died, including 66 children, health officials said in Gaza; up to 72,000 were displaced. In addition, Israeli strikes caused severe damage to Gaza’s already inadequate health, education and public works infrastructure.
Prior to May 10, when the last escalation took place, the Israeli-Palestinian issue was not a priority for the Biden administration. Biden had announced special envoys for Yemen, Iran, Libya and even the Horn of Africa. The highest-ranking official working daily on Israeli and Palestinian affairs was the Deputy Secretary of State. Hady Amr. Barbara Leaf, the administration’s candidate for deputy secretary of state for Middle East affairs, has not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing.
But along with Friday’s ceasefire, it will once again focus on what has historically been considered the central regional conflict. It turns out that the Arab world, which last year made several major moves to diplomatically recognize Israel, is still concerned about the Palestinian issue, especially when it comes to Jerusalem and the death of children, as Daoud Kuttab explains. And a new wave of progressive Democrats also cares, as Jared Szuba reports, putting more pressure on the administration.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blink is on its way to the region. According to The New York Times, the resumption includes that the United States has played a major role in rebuilding Gaza, based on the Abraham Accords negotiated during the Trump administration and even taking another look at the Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Netanyahu can’t win, right?
Last week we wrote here that the war hit the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political lifeline, as one of the consequences of Arab-Jewish-related violence in Israeli mixed cities was the presidency of the Yamina party Naftali Bennett withdrawing from his agreement with the party presidency Yesh Atid Yair Lapid to form a government, mainly because this alliance depended on the support of Islamist party leader Raam Mansour Abbas. Bennett’s right-wing coalition, already troubled by an agreement with Abbas, marked the line after the escalation.
Lapid has two weeks to form a government. If it fails, the task falls to the Israeli parliament or the Knesset. And if the Knesset cannot agree, there will be a fifth election in two years, with Netanyahu as interim prime minister.
The assessment of the war, so far, is mixed. “The IDF carried out its mission in the Gaza Strip accurately based on quality intelligence. The blows inflicted by Hamas were painful and particularly severe, but the operation was basically a reproduction of the previous ones.” , he writes Ben Caspit.
But “in strategic terms, Israel suffered a major blow,” Caspit continues. “Hamas has not been defeated, its top leadership is still alive and the organization continued to launch rockets at Israel until the last minute. The most important thing is that it successfully positioned itself as the definitive defender of Al-Aqsa and of the other places of Jerusalem sacred to Islam, embarrassed Israel, interrupted Jerusalem Day celebrations marking the unification of the city under Israeli rule, sent fleeing lawmakers to cover themselves in the middle of a session of the Knesset, set fire to relations between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel and intensified Palestinian violence against Israel in the West Bank. Not bad for ten days of asymmetric fighting. “
Netanyahu’s political opponents are also accumulating, calling his Gaza policy a failure. Mazal Mualem writes that Netanyahu calls himself “Mr. Security has become a political weakness,” as Hamas missile assault on Israeli cities, including for the first time Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is being characterized as a sign of a failed Gaza policy.
Despite a bombing campaign against Gaza that sparked an international outcry over its toll on Gaza’s population and infrastructure, Lapid criticized Bibi for not being more “fearful” in Israel’s military campaign, saying Israeli actions have of “making it clear to the people of Gaza that much to lose by allowing Hamas to continue to rule the Strip.”
While Bibi’s rivals on the right, chairman of the New Hope party Gideon Saar and the president of Yisrael Beitenu Avigdor Lieberman, have also criticized the ceasefire, it is still unclear whether Netanyahu’s perceived weakness in Gaza will translate into a new government by his opponents, who are still divided on other issues.
In response to these allegations of weakness, Netanyahu pledged on May 21 that Israel would respond with “a new level of strength” to future rocket attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas.
At this point, it seems increasingly possible that Netanyahu may continue as prime minister, even though politics is far from over.
Did Mahmoud Abbas get a lifeline?
Biden said the United States will work with the UN and other countries to rebuild Gaza “in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority – not with Hamas, with the Authority – in a way that does not allow Hamas to simply rest its military arsenal “.
This is an unexpected potential for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas had canceled the long-awaited elections in April because Israel allegedly did not allow Palestinians living in Jerusalem to vote (Israel has denied it), one of the catalysts for the Jerusalem demonstrations. Despite one or two calls with Biden, Abbas appeared to be a spectator of the events of the past eleven days, with little or no influence with Hamas, the Jerusalem protesters, or the Israeli Arabs who revolted in mixed cities. Abbas did not appear to be very involved, if any, in peace with Egypt (see below).
Even Hamas leaders rejected Abbas’s call for a government of national unity, perhaps feeling his weakness as a spectator in recent events. Adnan Abu Amer reports.
Now Biden has made it clear that reconstruction and development will flow through the Palestinian Authority. It goes unanswered how this program can be implemented without involving Hamas, which governs Gaza, and which the United States and Israel consider a terrorist organization.
“Sincere thanks” for Sisi
Before the events of this month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seemed to be on Biden’s “don’t call” list, a sign of the administration’s search for distance from regional autocrats with human rights issues, such as the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman.
So much for that. The first broadcast of Biden in Sisi again revealed the essential role that Egypt plays in Israeli-Palestinian and regional diplomacy. Biden expressed his “sincere gratitude” to Sisi and Egyptian diplomats that Biden said they “played a critical role in this diplomacy.”
Shahira Amin | documents changes in Egypt’s approach to the Palestinian question, seizing the opportunity in the current crisis. As one of the few countries to maintain relations with Hamas and Israel, Egypt has pledged to oversee the agreement and provide $ 500 million in assistance to Gaza. Ahmad Abu Amer | Gaza reports.
Turkey and Iran set aside
“One of the victims of the last round of fighting between Israel and Hamas is the apparent irrelevance of Turkey as a regional power in terms of the strategic ramifications of the fighting,” Cengiz Candar writes.
“After years of projecting power to try to be perceived as an emerging revisionist power in the Middle East and on the international stage, Erdogan’s strong stance in favor of Hamas has proved ineffective in both the military and the military. of peace “.
And Iran could be another loser. With the focus now on U.S.-led diplomatic and reconstruction efforts involving Egypt and other Arab states, Iran looks set to at least temporarily relinquish Gaza again, despite claims made in Gaza. Tehran and the Hamas leaders of a supposed “great victory” achieved. for combat and ceasefire, com Entsar Abu Jahal i Ahmad Abu Amer | report.
Can Gaza pick up the pieces?
We wrote in December 2020 about how Gaza’s economy was “almost collapsed,” according to the UN and other agencies. That “sad reality” got worse terribly.
Rasha Abu Jalal reports on the devastation of Gaza’s already deteriorating health infrastructure as a result of the bombing, including that “the only central coronavirus testing laboratory in the coastal enclave has ceased to operate amid Israeli shells aimed at the building of the Ministry of Health and Al-Ramal Clinic on al-Wehda Street in the center of Gaza City. ”
Hana Salah reports on the destruction of local businesses, such as a beloved ice cream parlor and bookstore, as well as catastrophic setbacks for agriculture and industry.