U.S. Urges Israel to Scale Back Gaza Campaign: Leverage and Diplomacy at Play

U.S. Urges Israel to Scale Back Gaza Campaign: Leverage and Diplomacy at Play

President Biden and his administration are publicly pressuring Israel to reconsider its large-scale campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, signaling a shift in their approach to the U.S.-Israel relationship.

In recent days, the United States has taken a more vocal stance in urging Israel to scale back its military operations in the Gaza Strip. President Joe Biden has criticized Israel for its “indiscriminate bombing” of civilians, and his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, has traveled to Israel to discuss the next phase of the conflict. This change in approach reflects a growing impatience within the Biden administration and a desire to influence Israel’s tactics. However, applying pressure to Israel carries political and diplomatic costs for the United States. In this article, we will explore the key points of leverage the U.S. has and the behind-the-scenes diplomacy being employed.

Billions in Security Assistance

One of the key points of leverage the United States has over Israel is the billions of dollars in security assistance it provides each year. Under a 10-year agreement created during the Obama administration, Israel receives approximately $3.8 billion annually, which represents up to 15% of its defense budget. The State Department has the authority to approve or object to how Israel uses this money to purchase weapons and ammunition. While the Biden administration could slow-walk the delivery of weapons or impose conditions on their use, doing so risks straining the historically strong U.S.-Israel relationship and facing backlash from the pro-Israel lobby.

Political Pressure on Netanyahu

Israel relies on the support of the Biden administration not only for resupplying its forces but also for shielding it from international pressure, including from the United Nations. The United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council, used its veto power to block a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. However, the U.S. could choose not to use its veto power in the future, which would increase international pressure on Israel. President Biden could also publicly advocate for a two-state solution, putting political pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Nevertheless, taking such actions would come at a significant cost for Biden, who has a long-standing relationship with Netanyahu and would face criticism if the conflict continues.

See also  The Rise of Remote Work: A Paradigm Shift in the Modern Workplace

Behind-the-Scenes Diplomacy

President Biden’s strategy has been to publicly support Israel’s right to defend itself while privately offering more pointed criticism. The administration has relied on closed-door diplomacy to encourage Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, restore telecommunications, negotiate a hostage deal, and pursue a more targeted military operation. This approach has had some success in achieving agreements, such as Israel’s decision to open its border crossing for humanitarian assistance. However, when it comes to the conduct of the war itself, the United States appears to have less influence. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has emphasized the need for a short-term timeline and more surgical operations, but the U.S. is careful not to dictate terms to Israel.

Conclusion: The United States is employing a combination of leverage and behind-the-scenes diplomacy to influence Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip. While the U.S. has significant leverage through security assistance and political pressure, applying these measures carries risks. President Biden and his administration are treading carefully, seeking to relate to Israel and remind them of the implications their actions have in the region. As the conflict continues, the effectiveness of these strategies will be tested, and the Biden administration will need to consider the potential consequences of their approach.