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Biden’s Balancing Act: Support for Israel Amid Gaza Crisis

President Joe Biden maintains an “ironclad” commitment to Israel, affirming U.S. support in the wake of Iran’s recent missile and drone attacks. However, this staunch defense does not halt the Biden administration’s pressures on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding civilian safety in Gaza, according to several administration officials.

The U.S. perceives its military defense of Israel and the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict as distinct issues. While defending Israel from external threats, the Biden administration also contemplates reducing support if Israel does not enhance its protection of Gaza’s civilians during the ongoing conflict. This dual-track approach underlines the complexity of U.S. foreign policy in the region.

Analysts predict that Biden’s unwavering support for Israel amidst Iranian aggression could strengthen his position in future negotiations with Netanyahu. Natan Sachs of the Brookings Institution notes that Biden’s assertive leadership on this front might contrast favorably against Netanyahu’s, potentially shifting Israeli public opinion.

The U.S. military’s involvement in intercepting over 300 Iranian missiles and drones further exemplifies Biden’s multifaceted strategy. This military support aims to reinforce U.S.-Israel solidarity while simultaneously urging restraint to prevent escalations in Gaza, particularly in the densely populated city of Rafah.

In recent discussions, differences emerged between U.S. and Israeli officials regarding the timeline for relocating civilians from Rafah, highlighting ongoing diplomatic challenges. The U.S. pushes for a quicker evacuation to safeguard civilians, a point of contention in the negotiations.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby emphasized that true friendship allows for critical dialogue, especially concerning military operations that risk civilian lives. The Biden administration continues to engage in tough negotiations, indicating its commitment to both Israeli security and Palestinian safety.

As an Israeli delegation prepares to visit Washington, the U.S. plans to leverage its recent defense of Israel as proof of its dedication, despite some policy disagreements. The goal is to align more closely on strategies to manage the Gaza situation without escalating conflict.

The U.S.-Israel dynamic remains complicated by the possibility of further Israeli retaliation against Iran, with Israel vowing to respond appropriately to Iranian provocations. These developments occur amidst broader discussions about possibly conditioning future U.S. military aid to Israel on its handling of the Gaza situation.