Biden’s patience with Netanyahu is slowly running out, but his back is against the wall

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On the one hand, President Biden acknowledged on Friday the pain that the war in Gaza and American support for Israel are causing in the United States. On the other hand, the same Biden administration last week approved the transfer of billions of dollars worth of bombs and warplanes to Israel, reports The Washington Post. The decision follows a visit by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“We continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself,” the White House says again and again. Military support to Israel is not new: the country receives $3.8 billion annually from the US. Support that has only increased since October 7.

Shortly after the start of the war, the United States delivered approximately 5,400 MK-84 bombs to the Israeli Air Force. These bombs have contributed to the high number of deaths in Gaza, human rights groups and defense specialists say. 32,782 people have now been killed in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported on Sunday.

The new weapons packages include more than 1,800 MK84 bombs weighing 900 kilos and 500 MK82 bombs weighing just under 250 kilos, in addition to fighter jets. These deliveries were approved years ago, but have never been fulfilled. That is why this initially passed in silence: the government did not have to provide information about these deliveries.

These two devastating MK80

the US supplies bombs to Israel

Fragments of the bomb

can be fatal

within a radius of

Used, among others, by the US during wars

in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and on Israel in 2014

in Gaza and during the current war with Hamas

Used for destroying bunkers, buildings,

runways airports, bridges

Fragments of the bomb can be fatal

within an area of

Used by the US, among others, during

the Gulf War, by Saudi Arabia in Yemen,

and through Israel during the current war with Hamas

Improve accuracy

Can be customized with GPS/INS guidance kits

these bombs are ‘smart munitions’ or JDAMs.

With navigation backup

if GPS fails 30 m

*Diameter of circular area where 50% of projectiles land

SOURCE: FT / AA / JANES / US AIR FORCE

These two devastating MK80 bombs

the US supplies to Israel

Fragments of the bomb

can be fatal

within an area of

Fragments of the bomb

can be fatal

within a radius of

Used by, among others

the US during the Gulf War,

by Saudi Arabia in Yemen,

and through Israel during the

current war with Hamas

Used, among others, by the US during wars

in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and on Israel in 2014

in Gaza and during the current war with Hamas

Used for destroying bunkers, buildings,

runways airports, bridges

Accuracy

improve

Customized with

GPS/INS

guidance kits

these become

bombs

‘smart ammunition’

or JDAMs.

With navigation backup

if GPS fails 30 m

*Diameter of circular area where 50% of projectiles land

SOURCE: FT / AA / JANES / US AIR FORCE

Stirring criticism

The 900 kilo bombs alone are controversial: Israel has been criticized for years for their use in a densely populated area such as Gaza, which inextricably causes many civilian casualties. Now they get another 1,800. At a time when a ground offensive is in the air in southern Gaza, in a place where more than 1.2 million Palestinians are trapped.

The Democrats are therefore increasingly calling for restrictions on arms deliveries to Israel. And although Joe Biden’s patience with Netanyahu is slowly running out, his back is against the wall. “Israel is an old ally of the US: no government can afford to let Israel fall,” defense expert and political scientist Sven Biscop (Egmont Institute & Ghent University) previously stated in this newspaper.

Willem Post, affiliated with Clingendael, confirms this. “President Biden is in a huge dilemma. The relationship between Israel and the United States is rock solid. An American president who questions that can forget his re-election.”

This balancing act is clearly visible in the American president. In March, during an interview with MSNBC, he said a ground offensive in Rafah would “cross a red line” but also added that he would never abandon Israel.

Frenemies

Yet things squeak and creak between Biden and Netanyahu, whose friendship goes back years. The latter was deputy chief of the Israeli embassy in Washington when Biden was still a young senator.

It’s not textbook friendship. For example, Biden has referred several times in the past to the photo of the two that he gave Netanyahu as a gift, which contained the following text: “Bibi, I don’t agree with what you say, but I love you.”

In the summer of 2023, the US president stated that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition has “one of the most extreme cabinet ministers he has ever seen in Israel.”

According to Willem Post, there have been several angry phone calls between the two recently. For example, Netanyahu was angry because the US did not use its veto in the UN Security Council, resulting in the adoption of a resolution calling on Israel and Hamas for an immediate ceasefire. And Biden is having trouble exerting influence on Netanyahu.

‘Despite his foreign experience, Biden cannot bring Netanyahu to his knees. He is increasingly bothered by this’

William PostClingendael

Post: “You see that the pinpricks of the Biden administration are becoming increasingly sharp. Washington wants to see a plan from Israel: how they want to spare the civilian population and what should happen to Gaza next. That plan will not happen.”

Elections

In one respect, Biden and Netanyahu are still in the same boat: they are both in stormy weather politically. “Netanyahu has little room because – if he gives in too much – he will have to step aside politically. Biden has the most foreign experience of all presidents and he cannot bring Netanyahu to his knees. This is increasingly bothering him,” says Post.

The American president has few means of pressure, he adds. He certainly cannot tamper with the military budget. However, he can attach conditions to new military aid. An important signal would be to vote for the next resolution in the UN Security Council. That would be a slap in the face to Netanyahu.

But Biden’s eyes are of course mainly focused on the elections in his own country: everything is about regaining the White House on November 5.

Post: “Among Arab voters, young Democrats and increasingly among the black population, Biden is being judged for his support for Israel while the atrocities in Gaza continue. He cannot afford to lose those groups. Suppose the situation in Gaza is still the same in October, he could well lose the presidential elections.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Bidens patience Netanyahu slowly running wall

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