Wednesday, September 01, 2021

  • Wednesday, September 01, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon


Throughout his political career, Joe Biden has said that the US should not publicly disparage Israel. But behind the scenes, things could be different.

We don't know for sure what was discussed in the private meeting between Joe Biden and Natali Bennett. We do know that White House Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa Barbara Leaf gave an off-the-record briefing to Jewish leaders after the meeting, where she confirmed that Biden did say he was opposed to evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and said he wants to open a Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem.

There is no reason to think that other topics were not brought up.

Over the past week, including the last three nights, Hamas has orchestrated violent riots at the Gaza border, with an increase in incendiary balloons and IEDs launched towards Israel. 

Yet even so, Israel has loosened up restrictions on Gaza this morning:

  • Expanding the Gaza Strip’s fishing zone to 15 nautical miles — the most since 2007.
  • Additional goods and construction materials imported into Gaza via the  Kerem Shalom Crossing.
  • An additional 5 million cubic meters (1.3 billion gallons) of water allowed into Gaza.
  • 5000 more workers will also be allowed into Israel from Gaza
Israel may have had these plans anyway in response to calm from Gaza - but there hasn't been calm in Gaza. In fact, the IDf statement on the easing of restrictions said, “These civil steps were approved by the political echelon and are dependent upon the continued preservation of security stability for an extended period. An extension of them will be considered in accordance with a situational assessment.” 

The first sentence sounds a lot like this was a response to a specific request from the White House to ease restrictions on Gaza, because there is no security stability to be preserved. 

The second sentence, however, is more interesting. It says that the easing of restrictions is temporary, and their continuation si wholly dependent on how Hamas acts.

It is too simplistic to say that Israel should shut off Gaza. Just as Israel is careful not to hurt Gaza civilians in wartime, it has to be careful not to hurt them during a truce. Making life easy for innocent Gazans without allowing terrorists to take advantage of the situation should be the default situation. 

Airstrikes on empty fields and buildings is not disincentive for Hamas, but the threat that the people of Gaza would protest is something Hamas is very sensitive to. In that sense, it makes sense to make as many concessions as possible and to make it clear that Hamas actions are the only things that can stop the goodwill. 

But the timing in this case is all wrong. 

The only way it makes any sense is if Israel was planning this all along and wanted to wait until after the Bennett-Biden meeting to make Biden feel like it was his doing. Delaying the easing would be seen as an insult to the American president.

Unfortunately, the message being received by Gazans is that their riots are causing Israel to cave in. It ends up increasing violence, not decreasing tension.  








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