Rising tensions are evident between the administration of President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, particularly over the issue of expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Inside sources from the White House reveal President Biden’s mounting dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s reluctance to cease the construction of new settlements. Biden perceives this as a hindrance to achieving a two-state resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.
A high-ranking official from the administration, preferring to remain unnamed, stated, “President Biden has consistently communicated that the expansion of Israeli settlements does not contribute positively towards achieving enduring peace.” The official further hinted that Biden might have to reassess certain aspects of U.S. policy if Netanyahu remains unyielding.
Observers of Middle Eastern politics note a change in the dynamics of U.S.-Israeli relations following Biden’s assumption of the presidency, succeeding Donald Trump.
Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, remarked, “The difference in Biden’s support for Netanyahu, compared to Trump’s unwavering backing, is evident. This could lead to increased tensions between the two nations if Israel doesn’t respond more favorably to Biden’s concerns.”
Israel will begin to implement four-hour "humanitarian pauses" in northern Gaza each day to allow people to flee, the White House has said.
US President Joe Biden has been speaking about the pause to reporters.https://t.co/0A88Jv8ncX
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Despite this, some members of Biden’s administration oppose the idea of pressuring Israel regarding its settlement policies. Among them is Victoria Coates, the Deputy National Security Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa. Known for her strong pro-Israel stance, Coates, a former advisor to Senator Ted Cruz, has internally voiced opposition to penalizing or distancing the U.S. from the Israeli government.
Disagreements over Israel’s policy have also surfaced between U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides and Aaron David Miller, who oversees Arab-Israeli matters at the State Department. Nides, known for his forthright approach, has reportedly urged a less interventionist strategy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For the time being, Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, advises a patient approach with Israel. However, some officials believe that Biden may have to take decisive action if Netanyahu doesn’t alter his stance. Such actions could range from reducing military support to imposing new conditions on aid.
“The current administration under Biden is distinct from Obama’s,” noted the senior official. “Biden will not shy away from redefining the U.S.-Israel relationship if he feels Netanyahu is not contributing constructively to peace efforts.”