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Biden calls for significant de-escalation in Israel/Palestine conflict

By Ricky Browne

More than a week after Israel and Palestine restarted their forever war, US President Joe Biden came out and said he rather wished they would have a cease fire.

Earlier today he was more explicit and according to the White House told Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire”.

For some the move is too little too late – especially among Palestinian supporters on the left of the Democratic party.

But for many Republicans, it is a step too far.

“Joe Biden is trying to pump the brakes on Israel defeating Iran-backed Palestinian terrorists, because of course he is,” tweeted Ted Cruz, former presidential candidate for the Republicans and a senator from Texas.

“Biden is calling for Israel to de-escalate while the terrorist group Hamas is still firing rockets at Israeli citizens. It would be unacceptable if one of our allies called for de-escalation if Washington DC were targeted by rockets. We must stand with Israel against terrorism,” tweeted Nikki Haley, who was previously Donald Trump’s envoy to the United Nations.

A boy walks in Gaza Photo: ANADOLU AGENCY

No word yet from former President Donald Trump, but it’s a good bet that he won’t be in support of Biden’s comments either.

Palestinians are being killed at a rate of more than 20 to one when compared to Israelis, but the US position has been that Israel has the right to defend itself. Even the right to defend itself against defenceless children – more than 63 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces since this new commencement of the war, according to some statistics. In total it is estimated that at least 213 people have been killed by Israeli actions in Gaza, while 12 people have been killed in Israel by Hamas rockets.

Palestininans have been firing rockets into Israel – or trying anyway. They’ve launched more than 2000 so far, 10 percent of which landed within Gaza. The Israeli Iron Dome defence shield has shot down another 90 percent of the remaining rockets – the end result being that less than 10 people have been killed in Israel, including two children — one of them a Jewish boy, and the other a 16-year-old girl who was Arab Israeli.

Nine-year-old Yara (left) and five-year-old Rula (right) were killed alongside several family members in Gaza on Sunday. Photo: AL-KAWLAK FAMILY/DCIP/NRC

In retailiation – or in offense, depending on your interpretation – the Israelis have attacked Palestine, and have demolished many targets and kllled more than 200 Palestininans so far.

Nadine Awad, a 16-year-old Israeli Arab was killed by a Hamas rocket in Israel

To be fair, its not that Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, has been taking care not to kill Israeli children. Its more to do with the fact that Israel has been much better at defending its territory from attack than Gaza has been able to protect itself.

Israel, which believes it is being very effective in radically reducing the Palestinain threat probably has no intention of stopping its strategy of destruction. The fact that this renewal of the war seems to be enabling Benjamin Netanyahu to remain in power is also a contributing factor.

Palestine, which is on the receiving end, and particularly that part which is controlled by Hamas, may be having second thoughts. They must have now severely depleted their store of rockets – with others being destroyed for them – and must be aware that they are severely weakened.

Given that the United States is only suggesting a preference for a cease fire, and given that Israel is winning, it is likely that the bombardment of Palestine will continue, but that the attack on Israel by Palestine will lessen in its intensity. Unless Israel is now happy to de-escalate.

Once this part of the battle is over, Israel will hope that it can negotiate in a position of greater strength than it had before. But it is unlikely that Palestine will budge an inch in negotiation over many of its positions.

Part of the problem is the stated desire of Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, to wipe out all Israelis. This doesn’t leave much room for negotiation.

But the more Palestinians are attacked by Israel, the more support the hard line Hamas will get from Palestinians.  

Damage from an Israeli air strike overnight in Gaza City PHOTO: Reuters

And now Israel has a new problem, which is the perceived enemy within. How will it control the 20 percent of its population which is Arab? There is a breakdown between Arab and Jewish neighbours within Israel, that threatens civil war. Its one thing to bomb the other when they are outside of your territory. But it is another to use violence on your own people, even if its people you’d rather not have to deal with.

To contain this problem may require a soft touch which Israel up to this point in its history doesn’t really seem to be very adept at.

So the problem with Gaza and the rest of Palestine can be contained in Israel’s favour – despite considerable international disapproval.

The real problem will be how to keep its own nation state together, and how to get its Arab citizens on side – even when more radical Jewish citizens may attack them.

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