America’s Schizophrenic Approach to Gaza

Political infighting in both Israel and the US is complicating what comes after the war ends in Gaza
12th March 202423 min

Our original analysis of Israel’s War on Gaza, from December 2023, concluded that it is the result of major strategic differences between Israel and the United States. The United States wants to “Pivot to Asia”, for which it needs Israel to sign formal treaties with the countries of the Muslim World and agree to establishment of a Palestinian State. We said:

“The United States was most likely aware of the Hamas plans for the 7th of October, and worked with elements of Israel’s political and security elite to allow these plans to be executed  successfully. The United States’ objective was to use the 7th of October to put pressure on Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, in order to get him to align with the United States geopolitical strategy for the Middle East.”[1]

In our updated analysis, from January 2024, we provided more insight into the United States’ approach in its collaboration with Israel. It concluded that the United States has adopted a “…slow but steady…” rather than “…resolute and fast…” approach, under which it externally maintains a position of “…unconditional support…” for Israel, while behind the scenes it works to increase pressure on the Netanyahu government, to get it to align its course with the United States’ geostrategy and related objectives in the Middle East.

The United States performs this delicate balancing act in order to appease the Zionist Lobby in its country, and we noted at that time it had achieved some successes, as evidenced by Israel’s announcement of a “new phase” in its War on Gaza. But these were small successes, we said, and the United States had to continuously act and intervene in order to prevent the Israelis from escalating their War on Gaza into a broader regional conflict in the Middle East. We said:

“From the Israeli perspective, a broader regional war, in which the United States actively participates to ensure Israel is not defeated, would establish an ideal starting point for negotiations on the conditions of the Abraham Accords. A weakened Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and possibly even Saudi Arabia would enable Israel to get more of what it wants in these negotiations.”[2]

This geopolitical analysis will look at what has happened since, and what these developments indicate about the most likely trajectory of the War on Gaza.

Israel’s Continued War on Gaza 

Events since January 2024 indicate the United States has had little to no success in its attempts to steer Israeli policy regarding Gaza. There has been a great number of additions to the list of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, as a result of which the suffering of the people there has increased to unimaginable levels.

Israeli military strikes on Gaza have continued relentlessly, driving the death toll up to above 30,000 by the end of February 2024. This means that since the 7th of October, the Israeli military has killed 250 Palestinians on average per day, a higher death rate than any other 21st century conflict. Additionally, more than 70,000 Palestinians have been wounded and over a million have been displaced.[3]

In addition, according to Human Rights Watch, Israel continues to obstruct the provision of basic services and the entry and distribution within Gaza of fuel and lifesaving aid, which are acts of collective punishment that amount to war crimes, including the crime of using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war. In fact, following the International Court of Justice’s decision of the 26th of January, which instructed Israel “…to take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid…”, Israel has intensified its strangulation of Gaza. The daily average number of trucks entering Gaza with food, aid, and medicine dropped by more than a third in the weeks following the ruling, from 147 trucks between the 1st of January and the 26th, to 93 trucks between the 27th of January and the 21st of February, and only 57 between the 9th of February and the 21st. By comparison, an average of 500 trucks of food and goods entered Gaza each day before Israel’s War on Gaza, and event at that level an estimated 1.2 million people in Gaza were facing acute food insecurity.[4]

According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, the destruction Israel has caused in Gaza is of such a level that even if a lasting ceasefire were to be agreed today, Gaza will still see over 11,000 “excess deaths” as a result of hunger and a lack of medical care over the coming six months. If the current situation is continued, they expect to see over 66,000 additional excess deaths over this period, almost 400 civilians per day.[5] 

the Israeli military has killed 250 Palestinians on average per day, a higher death rate than any other 21st century conflict

Nevertheless, Israel has threatened to further escalate in its War on Gaza, via ground invasion of the Rafah area in Southern Gaza, where approximately 1.5 million Gazans have fled to in response to Israel’s systematic destruction of Northern, and Central-Gaza.[6]

Israel has also continued its efforts to escalate the conflict in the direction of Lebanon. During February it moved beyond attacking targets in the border area between Israel and Lebanon, to attacking Sidon city in Lebanon as well as the Bekaa valley, some 100 kilometres further north. The attacks in the Bekaa Valley targeted a Hezbollah air defence system, which is a purely offensive act designed to degrade Lebanon’s ability to defend itself.[7] By early March 2024, Israel had launched close to 3,500 attacks against Lebanon since the 7th of October.[8] According to the UN agency the International Organization for Migration (IOM), over 90,000 people have had to flee Southern Lebanon to protects themselves against these attacks.[9]

There have also been escalations outside of Palestine and Lebanon, by Iran’s “Axis of Resistance”. In response to the continuing Israeli War on Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen stepped up their attacks against ships in the Red Sea over the months of January and February. In response, the United States has begun targeting the Houthis, “…to further disrupt and degrade the capabilites…” of the Houthis to do so. The attacks were supported by the United Kingdom, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand.[10

An attack by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq against a United States’ military outpost on the border of Jordan and Syria killed three United States servicemen late January 2024.[11] In response, the United States attacked a variety of targets in Iraq and Syria.[12] Iran has since stepped in to prevent further escalation, asking its partners in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to halt their attacks against the United States military in the region, in order to avoid any further escalation. Iran dispatched military leaders and diplomats across the region to meet with local officials and militia members for this purpose.[13]

America’s “schizophrenic” approach to  Gaza

The United States has responded to Israel’s actions in Gaza in a manner that appears “schizophrenic”.

On the one hand, it has continued its diplomatic pressure on Israel, in order to make it change its course. In January, president Biden began explicitly calling upon Israel to scale down its military operations in Gaza. He also warned that Israel was losing international support over its war on Gaza, and therefore needed to change its policy in accordance with the United States’ vision.[14] Then in February, president Biden upped the tone of his criticism of Israel, calling its actions in Gaza “…over the top…”.[15] Around the same time, the United States announced it would launch an investigating into the Israeli army for possibly having committed war crimes in Gaza and Lebanon.[16] Related, it released information to let it be known that it was reviewing the possibility of slowing down weapons deliveries to Israel, in order to force it to comply with American demand.[17] And, it formally told Israel that it would only continue to supply weapons if the Israelis gave a written assurance they would abide by international law when using the weapons, and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.[18]

In addition, the United States began using its allies to further increase pressure on Israel. Foreign Ministers of 26 member-states of the European Union issued a declaration calling for “…an immediate humanitarian pause that would lead to a lasting ceasefire…”[19], something that earlier they had refused to even consider. Egypt said that it would cancel its peace treaty with Israel if it continued its attacks on the Rafah area of Southern Gaza.[20] The United Kingdom warned Israel that future arms shipments might be halted if Israel attacked Rafah.[21] The United Nations released a statement calling for an end to all weapons shipments to Israel.[22] And in The Netherlands an appeals court judged that the country’s shipment of spare parts for Israel’s F-35 jet fighter had to be suspended in light of Israel’s War on Gaza, saying “It is undeniable that there is a clear risk the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law”.[23]

On the other hand, however, the United States has continued to provide Israel with diplomatic backing and military support.

In February the United States for the third time vetoed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.[24] Then in March it vetoed a United Nations Security Council statement that would have criticized Israeli forces for opening fire at Palestinians waiting for the delivery of food and other humanitarian aid in Gaza, killing close to a hundred people.[25] In addition, representatives from both the Democratic and Republican Parties in the United States proposed a review of their country’s relations with South Africa, in order to punish it for taking Israel to the International Court of Justice on the accusation of genocide.[26]

United States military support for Israel has also continued at an unrelenting pace. During February, exactly when president Biden expressed more explicitly criticism of Israel’s conduct in its war on Gaza, the United States’ embassy in Israel, which by law has to review Israel’s requests for American weapons, approved another shipment of the weapons that enable Israel to commit its crimes, saying: “Israel takes effective action to prevent gross violations of human rights and to hold security forces responsible that violate those rights”.[27] The United States has so far during Israel’s War on Gaza organised more than 100 shipments of military equipment, treading carefully in order to keep these deliveries out of the news and to evade rules that prohibit it from sending weapons to countries that commit war crimes.[28] The supplied equipment includes 23,000 precision guided weapons such as Hellfire air-to-ground missiles; drones; Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which turn unguided bombs into “smart” bombs; and 58,000 155mm artillery shells and munitions for its Iron Dome air defense system. It has also been revealed that the United States sent intelligence officers from its air force to Israel, in order to actively support the Israeli army in its War on Gaza by providing “targeting intelligence”, that is, support to identify targets inside Gaza that are to be attacked.[29]

On the one hand, it has continued its diplomatic pressure on Israel, in order to make it change its course… On the other hand, however, the United States has continued to provide Israel with diplomatic backing and military support.

Making sense of the United States position

It is very clear the United States has the ability to determine events globally, including in Gaza. The United States determines international diplomatic pressure on Israel via its stance in the United Nations. The United States determines the strength of the Israeli army via its weapons supplies and tactical support. The United States even determines the strength of the Israeli economy, as it has the ability to sanction. The United States has tremendous leverage over Israel, in other words. So why is it not clear in the direction it wants Israel to take? And why is it not forcefully directing Israel in this direction?

It has been argued that the United States’ position in Israel’s war on Gaza is in reality consistent[30], rather than schizophrenic. This viewpoint holds that the United States manages its words in such a way as to give the impression it stands for justice and human rights and simultaneously manages its actions with the aim of securing its interests, irrespective of justice and human rights.  Thus, there only is an appearance of schizophrenia.

The counter-argument to this view is that there is not only an observable contradiction between words and actions, but also between words, and between actions.

An example of the contradiction between words is the criticism of the Biden administration of Israeli conduct on the one hand, and the United States’ Jerusalem embassy assessment of Israeli military actions on the other, mentioned above.

An example of the contradiction between actions is in the contradiction between the United States diplomatic and military actions. At first sight it seems the United States’ military support for Israel is unconditional. Diplomatically, however, the United States is exerting real and tangible pressure on the Netanyahu government. The Biden administration has clearly communicated its contempt for Netanyahu and his government, going so far as refusing to speak with him or meet him for months, although he is the official leader of his country, while at the same time closely engaging with his main political rival.[31] It seems that communications with Netanyahu have recently been halted again.[32] And, in what is a complete break with protocol, the United States invited another political rival of Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, to Washington DC, to discuss policy. Despite unequivocal objections by Netanyahu, who went as far as instructing all Israeli government institution to not provide any support for Gantz on his trip[33], Gantz actually went to Washington DC to sit down with the United States’ Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defence Austin, infuriating Netanyahu and his partners in the Israeli government.[34]

In addition to this observable disconnect between military and diplomatic actions, we believe there is also a disconnect in the United States’ military actions. Following the news that the Pentagon and State Department have managed United States’ weapons transfers to Israel in such a way that oversight could be evaded, as mentioned above, the office of president Biden has formally requested from them a list of all weapons transfers to Israel planned to take place in the near future. While this has been described as a “routine” request, it has also been noted that the White House had not requested something similar since the start of Israel’s War on Gaza.[35] Based on these facts, the timing of the request and the fact that it is something new, we speculatively assert that president Biden and his entourage might not have been fully aware of all weapons transfer to Israel. And, that they have realised that at least some of the recent weapon transfers have conflicted with the policy direction they chose for the United States. Accordingly, now they want to more closely control the weapons transfers, in order to ensure that henceforth, the United States military actions are all aligned with their policy.

Our assessment of events over the first quarter of 2024 is, therefore, that there really has been schizophrenia in the United States position, and not just the appearance of it. In addition, we believe this schizophrenia has been caused by the fact that not all institutions of the United States government have been working on the basis of the same policy vis-à-vis Israel’s War on Gaza. While president Biden and his entourage have consistently sought to apply pressure on Netanyahu and his government to get it to align its course with the United States’ geostrategy and related objectives in the Middle East, others in the United States “Deep State”[36] have followed a different path, a path of consistent unconditional support for the Zionist program.

we believe this schizophrenia has been caused by the fact that not all institutions of the United States government have been working on the basis of the same policy

This is how we explain president Biden’s recent decisions to airdrop aid into Gaza and to build a temporary port to provide more aid over coming weeks.[37] For most analysts, this is inexplicable except through hypocrisy. Considering all the leverage the United States has over Israel, if it doesn’t just force Israel to a ceasefire and open the border crossings into Gaza for aid deliveries, it must be acting in a duplicitous manner, attempting to manage public opinion while committing genocide. In our assessment, however, this showcases the limits of president Biden’s control over the United States Deep State. All the tools of leverage are simply not available to the president, because not all influential people in the key positions of the broader United States’ government follow the president’s policy if it doesn’t align with their own policy preferences. Instead, they will in such cases follow their preferred policy, which in this particular case is the Zionist program. We believe the various reports of “political infighting” inside United States institutions such as the State Department effectively confirm our assessment.[38]

In summary

Even the most recent developments in the Israeli’s War on Gaza support the key conclusion from our first geopolitical analysis on the subject, which was that the United States sees the events of the 7th of October as an opportunity to further its plan for the Middle East. This results from its geopolitical strategy named the “Pivot to Asia”, to change Israeli policy, to make it accept the Abraham Accords as proposed by the United States, and the two-state solution for Palestine.

We believe these most recent developments also confirmed the key conclusion from our second geopolitical analysis on the subject, which was that due to the strength of the Zionist Lobby inside the United States, the United States has adopted a “slow but steady” rather than “resolute and fast” approach to achieving its objectives.

What we believe the most recent developments in the Israeli’s War on Gaza indicate, is that the Zionist Lobby is in fact stronger than we assumed earlier. So strong, in fact, that the United States president does not fully control it.

As such, we say, there is political infighting in the United States government on the subject of Israel and Palestine, just as there is in Israel.

In Israel, this political infighting is well known, and features prime minister Netanyahu and his supporters on the right side of the political spectrum, who aim for complete eradication of Palestinians from the landmass between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea, and current opposition figures such as Yair Lapid and Benny Gants who aim for complete Zionist control over the landmass, without forced expulsion of its Palestinian inhabitants. Netanyahu and his supporters believe brute force is the key to firmly securing the Zionist colonial project in Palestine. Lapid and Gantz believe a combination of force and co-option, through protecting and preserving the image of “Israeli moral superiority”, is the key to firmly securing the Zionist colonial project in Palestine.

In the United States a similar political infighting has in our view become apparent, in line with the thesis of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt that a powerful “Israel Lobby” exists inside the United States Deep State that has been able to influence United States policy in accordance with the  interests of the Zionist program, rather than in accordance with the interests of the United States.[39]

The outcome of these internal power struggles will determine the outcome of Israel’s current War on Gaza.

If the supporters of the Zionist program end up dominating in the United States, then expulsion of the people of Gaza into Egypt[40] and horizontal escalation of the current conflict into Lebanon becomes the most likely outcome.[41]

If president Biden and his entourage succeed in reigning in the Zionist Lobby, then Netanyahu will eventually be removed and his government replaced by one more closely aligned with the vision for a two-state solution.

The recent report that even pro-Israel politicians in the United States have begun to see how the past five months have hurt the United States’ interests globally, through an erosion of United States soft power globally, makes us conclude that the second potentiality is at present the most likely one.[42]

 


 

[1] “DEEP DIVE: A Geopolitical Analysis of the War on Gaza”, The GeoPolity, 2023, https://thegeopolity.com/2023/12/20/deep-dive-a-geopolitical-analysis-of-the-war-on-gaza/

[2] “Recent Developments in the War on Gaza”, The Geopolity, 2024, https://thegeopolity.com/2024/01/09/recent-developments-in-the-war-on-gaza/

[3] “Israel’s war on Gaza is a health justice issue, too”, Al Jazeera, 2024, www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2024/3/1/the-war-on-gaza-is-a-health-justice-issue-too

[4] “Israel Not Complying with World Court Order in Genocide Case”, Human Rights Watch, 2024, www.hrw.org/news/2024/02/26/israel-not-complying-world-court-order-genocide-case

[5] See, https://gaza-projections.org/

[6] “Gaza: Israel’s dehumanisation of displaced persons must end, says UN expert”, United Nations, 2024, www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2024/03/gaza-israels-dehumanisation-displaced-persons-must-end-says-un-expert

[7] “Israel strikes deeper into Lebanon after Hezbollah downs drone”, Reuters, 2024, www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-strikes-deeper-into-lebanon-hezbollah-downs-drone-2024-02-26/

[8] “Mapping Escalation Along Lebanon’s Southern Border Since October 7”, Beirut Urban Lab, 2024, www.beiruturbanlab.com/en/Details/1958/escalation-along-lebanon%E2%80%99s-southern-border-since-october-7 

[9] “Mobility Snapshot – Round 27 – 07-03-2024”, International Organization for Migration, 2024, https://dtm.iom.int/reports/mobility-snapshot-round-27-07-03-2024

[10] “US, UK bomb Houthi sites in Yemen amid surge in Red Sea ship attacks”, Al Jazeera, 2024, www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/25/us-uk-bomb-houthi-sites-in-yemen-amid-surge-in-red-sea-ship-attacks

[11] “Announcement of U.S. Casualties in Northeast Jordan, near Syria Border”, US Centcom, 2024, www.centcom.mil/MEDIA/PRESS-RELEASES/Press-Release-View/Article/3658484/announcement-of-us-casualties-in-northeast-jordan-near-syria-border/

[12] “US drone strike kills Iran-backed militia leader in Baghdad”, BBC, 2024, www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-68235311

[13] “Iran, wary of wider war, urges its proxies to avoid provoking U.S.”, The Washington Post, 2024, www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/02/18/iran-proxies-middle-east/

[14] “Biden, in rare criticism, warns Netanyahu that Israel risks losing global support”, Axios, 2024, www.axios.com/2023/12/12/biden-netanyahu-hamas-israel-criticism

[15] “WH: Biden’s “over the top” remark about Israel’s actions in Gaza not change of course”, Axios, 2024, www.axios.com/2024/02/09/biden-israel-gaza-war-hamas-netanyahu

[16] “U.S. Probes Israeli Strikes That Killed Civilians in Gaza, Possible Use of White Phosphorus in Lebanon”, The Wall Street Journal, 2024, www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-probes-israeli-strikes-that-killed-civilians-in-gaza-possible-use-of-white-phosphorus-in-lebanon-b8fb043b

[17] “Biden administration discussing slowing some weaponry deliveries to Israel to pressure Netanyahu”, NBC News, 2024, www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/biden-administration-discussing-slowing-weaponry-deliveries-israel-pre-rcna136035

[18] “Scoop: U.S. wants Israeli written assurances on using U.S. weapons in Gaza by mid-March”, Axios, 2024, www.axios.com/2024/02/27/israel-sign-letter-international-law-weapons-us-aid

[19] “26 EU countries warn Israel against ‘catastrophic’ Rafah offensive”, Reuters, 2024, www.reuters.com/world/eu-warns-israel-against-catastrophic-rafah-offensive-2024-02-19/

[20] “Egypt is threatening to void its decades-old peace treaty with Israel. What does that mean?”, AP, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/israel-egypt-peace-treaty-hamas-war-rafah-46df917a975ed4c4f88d5de01a8508e0

[21] “UK considers restricting arms exports to Israel if it invades Rafah”, The Telegraph, 2024, www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2024/02/21/uk-considering-restricting-arms-exports-israel-rafah-gaza/

[22] “Arms exports to Israel must stop immediately: UN experts”, United Nations, 2024, www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2024/02/arms-exports-israel-must-stop-immediately-un-experts

[23] “Dutch court orders halt to F-35 jet parts exports to Israel”, BBC, 2024, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-68272233

[24] “US vetoes another UN Security Council resolution urging Gaza war ceasefire”, Al Jazeera, 2024, www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/2/20/us-vetoes-another-un-security-council-resolution-urging-gaza-war-ceasefire

[25] “US blocks Algeria condemnation of Gaza aid massacre at UN Security Council”, The New Arab, 2024, www.newarab.com/news/us-blocks-algeria-condemnation-gaza-aid-massacre-un

[26] “US politicians call for review of relations with SA, for supposedly ‘undermining national security”, City Press, 2024, www.news24.com/citypress/news/us-politicians-call-for-review-of-relations-with-sa-for-supposedly-undermining-national-security-20240210

[27] “US readies new weapons shipment to Israel; embassy says no human rights concerns”, The Times of Israel, 2024, www.timesofisrael.com/us-readies-new-weapons-shipment-to-israel-embassy-says-no-human-rights-concerns/

[28] “How the U.S. Arms Pipeline to Israel Avoids Public Disclosure”, The Wall Street Journal, 2024, www.wsj.com/world/how-the-u-s-arms-pipeline-to-israel-avoids-public-disclosure-e238de75

[29] “Biden Admin Deployed Air Force Team to Israel to Assist With Targets, Document Suggests”, The Intercept, 2024, https://theintercept.com/2024/01/11/israel-air-force-targeting-intelligence/

[30] “Joe Biden Must Distance Himself from the Israeli Right”, The National Interest, 2024, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/joe-biden-must-distance-himself-israeli-right-209483

[31]  “DEEP DIVE: A Geopolitical Analysis of the War on Gaza”, The GeoPolity, 2023, https://thegeopolity.com/2023/12/20/deep-dive-a-geopolitical-analysis-of-the-war-on-gaza/

[32] “Biden-Netanyahu Relationship at Boiling Point as Rafah Invasion Looms”, The Wall Street Journal, 2024, www.wsj.com/world/middle-east/biden-netanyahu-relationship-at-boiling-point-as-rafah-invasion-looms-b893bec5

[33] “Netanyahu allies lash out at Benny Gantz over Washington trip”, The Financial Times, 2024, www.ft.com/content/1068b774-6ce2-4b41-8552-df64d12c7be1

[34] “Blinken, Austin push Gantz on Gaza humanitarian crisis during Washington meetings”, The Times Of Israel, 2024, www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/blinken-austin-push-gantz-on-gaza-humanitarian-crisis-during-washington-meetings/

[35] “Scoop: White House asks State Dept., Pentagon for Israel-bound weapons list”, Axios, 2024, www.axios.com/2024/03/07/biden-israel-weapons-list-gaza

[36] “The Deep State”, Geopolitical Futures, 2017, https://geopoliticalfutures.com/the-deep-state/

[37] “US to build temporary port to deliver Gaza aid”, Reuters, 2024, www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-announce-gaza-aid-port-construction-state-union-speech-2024-03-07/

[38] “Biden’s Israel-Gaza Approach Sidelines State Department, And Officials Fear The Worst”, The Huffington Post, 2023, www.huffpost.com/entry/state-department-israel-hamas-gaza_n_6543a0c4e4b0cde80b8bd72e

[39] “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, 2007, Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publishers

[40] “Egypt setting up area at Gaza border which could be used to shelter Palestinians, sources say”, Reuters, 2024, www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/egypt-setting-up-area-gaza-border-which-could-be-used-shelter-palestinians-2024-02-16/

[41] “Energy, (Geo)Politics & Money – 29 February 2024”, Substack, 2024, https://energypolitcsmoney.substack.com/p/energy-geopolitics-and-money-29-february-c90

[42] “Pro-Israel Democrats push Biden for temporary Gaza ceasefire”, Axios, 2024, www.axios.com/2024/03/01/pro-israel-democrats-biden-letter-gaza-ceasefire

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts