US-Israel Bond in Strain

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Abu Hurrairah Abbasi

The historically strong bond be­tween the White House and Is­rael is showing signs of strain as the conflict in Gaza escalates into a se­vere humanitarian crisis. Israe­li Prime Minister Benjamin Ne­tanyahu is resisting the Biden administration’s efforts to al­ter the current approach. President Joe Biden recently stated that a cessation of hos­tilities in Gaza appeared proba­ble. However, Israeli Defense Minis­ter Yoav Gallant stated that regardless of a temporary cease-fire, Israel’s mili­tary operations in Gaza will persist un­til all captives are liberated.
This serves as an additional demon­stration of Washington’s apparent in­capacity to control a significant part­ner while also demonstrating that the US and Israel are pursuing conflicting objectives. Repeatedly, ever since Israel initiated its armed operations in Gaza, the Biden administration has explicitly condemned the tactics used by the Is­raeli government. However, the Biden administration has refused to reduce the military assistance it is giving to Is­rael and constantly offers diplomatic protection for Israel at the United Na­tions. It frequently stands alone in veto­ing global calls for a cease-fire.
During the recent hearings before the International Court of Justice regard­ing the validity of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Unit­ed States was willing to support Israel. Upon the ICJ’s issuance of a preliminary ruling in January regarding South Afri­ca’s accusation of Israel’s involvement in “genocide” in Gaza, the ICJ ordered Israel to provide a plan for safeguard­ing civilians. In response, White House spokesperson John Kirby stated that the Biden administration viewed the ruling as aligning with their stances but refuted the notion that Israel’s actions could be classified as genocide.
Biden administration has emphasized the necessity of establishing an auton­omous Palestinian state as a crucial component towards achieving a last­ing peace, but Netanyahu vehemently opposes this stance. The Israeli leader from the right-wing political spectrum has also declined Biden’s suggestions of granting a prominent position to the Palestinian Authority, which is situated in the West Bank, in shaping Gaza’s des­tiny once the conflict concludes.
According to Gaza’s health ministry, which Hamas controls, Israel’s persis­tent air attacks and advancing ground invasion, along with the disruption of Gaza’s water and electricity servic­es, have resulted in the deaths of over 30,000 Palestinians. The United Na­tions reports that Israeli limitations on the aid allowed into the besieged en­clave, which is surrounded by a block­ade, have resulted in over 500,000 peo­ple experiencing starvation.
In a broader sense, Netanyahu has shown no inclination to take construc­tive measures towards a two-state solu­tion after the war, despite it being the official stance of the United States. In addition to the concerns already raised regarding the Netanyahu government’s commitment to democratic principles, further worries arise after October 7th.
Generally, this is a peculiar circum­stance. Scholars who analyze the rela­tionships between allies have frequent­ly highlighted a phenomenon known as “entrapment.” This refers to a situa­tion in which a weaker party, referred to as the client state, in an imbalanced alliance, takes measures that force the stronger party, known as the patron state, to become involved in a conflict it originally intended to participate in. Indeed, this is occurring in certain re­spects. Furthermore, the Biden ad­ministration is not only providing dip­lomatic protection to Israel but also furnishing Israel with the necessary weaponry to carry out its operations in Gaza, even if it means diverting support from Ukraine and Taiwan. The war has caused regional instability, including attacks by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and the Houthis in the Red Sea, which are not beneficial for the United States.
Nevertheless, Israel’s military opera­tions have entangled the United States in an unwanted conflict, which is par­ticularly unfavorable timing-wise. This is due to the ongoing conflicts world­wide that require attention on the in­ternational front and the need for the administration to concentrate on prep­arations for the upcoming presidential election in November on the domestic front. From that perspective, the United States is caught in a difficult situation.
Furthermore, this situation is not simply detrimental to Washington’s im­mediate interests. This is causing the United States to become international­ly isolated. This poses a significant chal­lenge, considering the ongoing efforts by the United States to isolate Moscow since the commencement of Russia’s complete invasion of Ukraine two years ago, a campaign that was already en­countering obstacles.
It might be contended that the pres­ent condition of US relations with Is­rael effectively demonstrates Washing­ton’s power within the global system. The entity is both willing and capable of supporting an ally, regardless of the po­tential outcomes. Historically, the Unit­ed States has consistently exercised its veto power in the Security Council and has often found itself in opposition to General Assembly resolutions that cen­sure Israel. Occasionally, being a hege­mon can be a solitary experience. Fur­thermore, a fundamental advantage of being a hegemon is that it provides the conditions for international involve­ment and influences the global struc­ture. They are not obligated to comply with the worldwide public opinion’s unpredictable and fluctuating prefer­ences and wishes. Undoubtedly, the US’s capacity to act according to its own will and timing is a fundamental factor that has consistently led to its portrayal as a bully or even worse.
However, even if that is true, it pro­vides little comfort. Israel’s conduct is contradicting both the expressed pref­erences of the Biden administration and the interests of the United States. The United States appears to be a soli­tary dominant power due to the acts of an ally it cannot control yet is hesitant to sever ties with. The United States is currently attempting, but not succeed­ing, to achieve a delicate equilibrium between Israel’s entitlement to geo­political security and the Palestinians’ entitlement to human security. Occa­sionally, the United States incurs tan­gible expenses in order to maintain its alliance with Israel, and this is an in­stance of those occasions. However, if these tensions last long, they can sig­nificantly damage the US’s aspirations for a balanced approach in the Mid­dle East. So, if the US wants to pursue its broader goals in the region, it must bring Israel to the negotiation table to justify its stance of being a peace pro­moter state; otherwise, the delay in this regard can cost the US a lot.
The Writer works as a Researcher with an Islamabad-based policy think tank, the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. He can be reached at abuhurrairahah@gmail.com

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