With Netanyahu Threatening Rafah Invasion, Biden Prepares to Send Israel More Bombs

ANGLO AMERICA, 19 Feb 2024

Jeremy Scahill | The Intercept - TRANSCEND Media Service

Palestinians are seen among tents while Israeli attacks continue in Rafah of Gaza on 15 Feb 2024 – Photo: Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images

While pushing its tired narrative about Biden “losing patience,” the White House remains dedicated to Israel’s war on Gaza.

17 Feb 2024The most relevant fact about the Biden administration’s current position on the war against Gaza is this: There is no Israeli war crime too extreme for Joe Biden to consider pausing, to say nothing of cutting off, the flow of U.S. weapons and financial support for Israel’s war of annihilation. On Tuesday, the Senate passed an extraordinary $14 billion in additional military aid for Israel to continue its occupation and bombing of the Palestinians of Gaza. Biden remains defiant in rejecting global demands for an immediate cessation of Israel’s military assault on a starving, overwhelmingly defenseless population. Not only has Biden flatly rejected suggestions that he use the threat of halting military sales to Israel, his administration is currently preparing a new shipment of powerful munitions to Tel Aviv.

As the conservative death toll in Gaza nears 30,000 — with more than 13,000 children confirmed dead — the White House spin doctors are worried about the 2024 U.S. election. They are desperately trying to project a public image of compassion for the people of Gaza and to sell the public on the idea that Biden has reached the end of his patience with his great friend of nearly 50 years, Benjamin Netanyahu. Confronted with a disastrous series of public statements by Biden where he claimed to have recently met with long-deceased world leaders and a special counsel’s assertions about his mental acumen, the president’s re-election campaign has been thrust into a scramble to stabilize their public narrative.

Since the International Court of Justice formally ruled that South Africa’s genocide suit against Israel should proceed and issued a series of emergency orders directing Israel not to engage in genocidal actions, Tel Aviv has intensified its military operations, laying siege to hospitals and bombing civilian sites as it prepares for a possible full-scale ground invasion of Rafah. The city, which is on the border with Egypt and has been subjected to intense Israeli bombardment in recent days, creating an unsecured 25-square-mile death cage in which 1.4 million Palestinians are now trapped — after being told by Israel to flee there for safety.

Israel claims it is working on an “evacuation” plan for the entrapped mass of people in Rafah. The use of that word to describe the further forced expulsion of Palestinians under threat of death is grotesque — implying that they are being saved rather than terrorized. The Biden administration is on record as saying it won’t support an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, but with a glaring caveat: According to a White House readout of Biden’s recent call with Netanyahu, the administration’s position is “that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah.”

So what does this actually mean?

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Israel is proposing the creation of sprawling tent cities in Gaza as part of an evacuation plan to be funded by the U.S. and its Arab Gulf partners ahead of an impending invasion” of Rafah. Citing Egyptian officials, the paper said Egypt would establish 15 campsites across southwestern Gaza, each containing roughly 25,000 tents, as well as a field hospital. Satellite images indicate such facilities are being constructed, though Egypt has been circumspect in responding to questions about its position on the issue. These developments indicate the White House understands that Israel will likely launch its large-scale ground operation in Rafah. The invasion could create an intense diplomatic crisis between Israel and Egypt at a time when the White House hopes Cairo can play a key role in brokering a deal to exchange captives as part of a deal for a 6- week temporary truce.

Throughout the past four and a half months, the White House has issued similar milquetoast declarations expressing heavily couched concerns about impending Israeli operations, including attacks on hospitals in Gaza, but then publicly supporting Israel when it carries them out. In the Rafah case, the Biden administration has reportedly told Israel it would support targeted strikes in the border city but does not want to see a full–spectrum ground campaign.

Biden’s Cynical Spin

It is possible — given the world of crass, cynical politics that permeates Washington — that the Biden administration views opportunity in the Rafah situation. If Netanyahu proceeds against the White House’s stated position, it could potentially offer Biden an opportunity to escalate the spin campaign at the heart of the monthslong drama about supposedly “losing patience” with Netanyahu. This, in turn, would help reenforce the fictitious story the president’s reelection campaign has been crafting: Biden did everything to support Israel’s right to self- defense, but he will draw a line when Netanyahu wants to take it too far. On the other hand, history is a strong guide and suggests Biden will support an Israeli ground campaign with some expression of disappointment over tactics, while also claiming victory in convincing Israel to protect civilians. The White House has regularly given itself credit for encouraging Israel to be a bit less murdery in its operations, even as the Israeli military continues to kill large numbers of Palestinian civilians.

A similar dynamic is playing out with the dance Biden and Netanyahu are performing around the issue of Palestinian statehood or a two-state solution. The administration understands that this issue is the linchpin of any deal with Saudi Arabia to fully normalize relations with Israel and moves toward that end could allow the White House to claim a pyrrhic political victory even as Gaza lies in ruins.

Administration officials are increasingly focusing on a strategy to link a roadmap for Palestinian statehood with an end to the war, while Netanyahu has militantly rejected any such notion. “Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued after a 40-minute call with Biden on February 15. “Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.”

Focusing on this issue, as with illegal settlements, is a safe battle for Biden to wage against a politically vulnerable Netanyahu. It has been clear for months that part of the Biden plan on Gaza messaging in the U.S. election campaign is to try to load his own central role in a genocidal war onto Netanyahu’s political ship in the hopes it sinks in time to serve the re-election narrative.

Numerous media leaks about Biden’s mounting frustration with Netanyahu are little more than a re-election campaign ploy.

A recent U.S. intelligence estimate indicated that Israel’s current weapons stockpiles only enables it to wage war against Gaza for an additional 19 weeks, unless Washington sends more ammunition. The fact that Biden has outright refused to use his leverage as Israel’s arms dealer is a stark indication that the occasional public platitudes, offered by U.S. officials and numerous media leaks about Biden’s mounting frustration with Netanyahu, are little more than a re-election campaign ploy.

Whatever “off-ramp” Biden world eventually chooses to extricate himself politically from the Gaza war will never obviate the innumerable moments over the past 134 days when Israel’s murderous actions could have provided an instant justification to threaten to end military support and weapons sales to Israel. There has been a deliberate and conscious choice by Biden and company to keep the munitions flowing even as the massacres continue in full view of the world. The president was warned very early on in the war by Arab and Muslim leaders in the U.S. that his support for a gratuitous Israeli war against civilians would cost him politically, and he chose to stay the course in his fueling of Israel’s mass killing campaign.

The reason Gaza has become a domestic electoral problem for Biden is because of activism, especially from Palestinian Americans. The White House seems to believe it can still salvage the Arab American vote and desperately hopes the specter of another Donald Trump term will tilt the balance in Biden’s favor regardless of his atrocious role in an ongoing genocide. Whatever happens in the November election, it should never be forgotten that it was Biden, not those Americans who oppose Israel’s war and the U.S. facilitation of it, that bolstered Trump’s chances. That is entirely on Biden and the Democratic Party establishment.

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One Response to “With Netanyahu Threatening Rafah Invasion, Biden Prepares to Send Israel More Bombs”

  1. anaisanesse says:

    The only evacuation needed is the whole Zionist enterprise to be expelled (sorry- voluntarily move out) from Palestine, for ever.

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