Why Biden now wants regime change in Israel – Asia Times

Why Biden now wants regime change in Israel - Asia Times

US President Joe Biden, locked in a rolling debate with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over warfare tactics in the Gaza Strip, is banking on the threat of legal regime change to adjust Jewish combat tactics and set the country’s post- war peace policy in sync with Washington’s desires.

In Washington’s see, getting rid of Netanyahu is the key to the change of “regime” Biden seemingly wants in Israel. It’s not clear what kind of stress it may take to find Netanyahu either to alter policies, leave business or just call elections. But far, it is mostly mouth- wagging.

For great power stress by the US has been typical over the past century. It generally involves action against institutions deemed harsh or a threat to US interests.

Some of the treatments are forcefully accomplished. Take the 2003 overt overthrow of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, for instance, or the several secret efforts of the Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA ) to assassinate Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

In 1989, President George H W Bush sent US soldiers, sailors and Marines into Panama City to get Filipino king Manuel Noriega and transport him to the United States to confront drug trafficking charges. Bush justified the conquest under controversial legitimate reasons.

Often, stress essentially involved assistance for opponents of a qualified government who might be able to destroy a authorities on their own. Russia has accused the US of provoking 2014 protests in Ukraine that led to the resignation of a pro- Kremlin state.

A few years back, Washington recognized an alternative state of Venezuelans trying to overthrow the communist program of President Nicolas Maduro. A series of rallies failed to pressure him from power.

Of program, Biden is not seeking aggressive means to remove Netanyahu but instead would like a legitimate, legal revolution. During the past several months, Biden, his best foreign policy officers and a leading part of the US Congress have all joined forces to find Netanyahu to lock. So much, he has briskly resisted.

It’s not obvious who in Israel, if people, may be waiting in the wings to abandon Netanyahu’s military strategy or write-up- war policies. Netanyahu and his state strongly believe military success requires the death of Hamas, even at the price of human lives and damage of natural infrastructure in Gaza.

Unlike Biden’s perception of some sort of harmless Arab nation- state, Zionist leaders foresee a “day after” Gaza and West Bank that would be securely supervised by Israel—and lacking a defense force. In any case, Washington is running out of time for its two- state solution.

Netanyahu has already approved and his Cabinet signed off on a plan to invade Rafah, a city in the Gaza Strip’s far south. Rafah is an open refuge for at least one million Palestinians driven from other parts of Gaza by combat and bombing.

Last week, as a sop to Biden’s concerns for civilians, Netanyahu offered to send a delegation to Washington to explain his plans, which include the evacuation of civilians from Rafah. No exact escape route has yet been specified.

Netanyahu has resisted the creation of a Palestinian state and no one in his current government has spoken in favor of it. He also rejects Washington’s desire to advance Israeli elections, which are not due until the autumn of 2026.

He sees it as a way to oust him, given that polls show he is unpopular even if his management of the war is favored by most Israelis outraged by Hamas ‘ October 7 carnage. ” The people of Israel will choose when they will have elections and who they’ll elect, and it’s not something that will be foisted on us”, he told a television interviewer.

Nonetheless, Biden presses on, both to ease the civilian carnage and put peace talks in the picture. The US president is driven by competing strategic priorities. He has long been devoted to Israel’s security. He has also paid lip service to the creation of a Palestinian state, though he did n’t speak of that eventuality until after October 7.

At the same time, a recent complication has arisen: Arab Americans voters are outraged by Palestinian deaths, as are some youthful constituents normally attracted to Biden’s Democratic Party’s liberalism. Abandonment of Biden by both could cripple him in closely fought states in this November’s presidential election.

Key Biden associates have focused on influencing, if not undermining, Netanyahu in recent weeks.

Last week, Chuck Schumer, who heads Biden’s Democratic Party majority in the US Senate and is a staunch supporter of Israel, said that in the wake of Hamas ‘ October 7 attack,” The Israeli people are being stifled…by a governing vision that is stuck in the past”.

He characterized Netanyahu as” too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza, which is pushing support for Israel worldwide to historic lows” .&nbsp,

A few days before, Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said,” A humanitarian crisis has descended across Gaza. And anarchy reigns in areas that Israel’s military has cleared but not stabilized”. Sullivan also told Netanyahu that a ground assault on Rafah would be” a mistake”.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has frequently sparred with Netanyahu over both combat tactics and post- war peace, also advised the Israeli leader not to invade Rafah.

” It risks killing more civilians”, he said after meeting with Netanyahu on March 22. ” It risks wreaking greater havoc with the provision of humanitarian assistance. It risks further isolating Israel around the world and jeopardizing its long- term security and standing”.

In the weeks before all that, Biden took an array of actions to let Netanyahu know he could play rough:

  • He struck at Netanyahu’s habit of encouraging Israelis to build communities in the West Bank by barring three settlers from accessing the US financial system and forbidding American citizens from doing business with them.
  • He invited Benny Gantz, a member of Netanyahu’s coalition War Cabinet but also a political rival, to Washington for a talk with Vice President Kamala Harris. The invitation suggested that, in Biden’s mind, there are alternatives to Netanyahu, Israeli pundits surmised. Newspapers reported Netanyahu was “enraged” by the invitation and visit.
  • Biden’s office also prepared a memorandum proposing the conditioning of military aid to Israel on expedited delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Talk of restricting weapon supplies to Israel in time of war is unheard of.

Biden himself told a television interviewer that Netanyahu was “hurting Israel more than helping” and said Schumer’s intervention was” a good speech”. Netanyahu, meanwhile, &nbsp, has chafed at the clutter of admonitions. He told a television interviewer,” We’re not a banana republic”.

Netanyahu is sticking to his guns, literally:” We have no way to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah and eliminating the rest of the battalions there”, he said. He reported that he told Blinken” that I hope we will do it with the support of the US, but if we have to, we will do it alone”.

Netanyahu frequently repeats that the Israeli public largely supports his scorched earth pursuit of Hamas. Surveys have also indicated that Israelis oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.

US leaders have butted heads with Netanyahu over the Palestinian issue before and none could tame him. Then- president Barack Obama agreed with French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who said&nbsp, in a 2011 conversation that Netanyahu could n’t be trusted. ” I have to deal with him every day”, Obama lamented.

Dennis Ross, a top foreign policy aide to President Bill Clinton, complained that,” Netanyahu was nearly insufferable, lecturing us and telling us how to deal with the Arabs”. According to Ross, Clinton disdainfully observed that Netanyahu” Thinks he is the superpower and we are here to do whatever he requires”.

Netanyahu is not averse to going out of his way to win over US public opinion, which is generally pro- Israel. During the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president, Netanyahu twice openly tried to derail US Middle East policy.

In March 2010, Obama dispatched Biden to Israel to pressure Netanyahu to freeze construction of West Bank settlements. At the time, Obama was trying to jump- start peace talks.

Just as Biden arrived, Netanyahu’s government announced plans to build 1, 600 new Israeli apartments in the West Bank. This act enraged Biden, who retaliated by keeping Netanyahu waiting to dine with him for an hour and a half.

That was the extent of Obama- era pressure on Israel over its settlement policy. From then on, Obama complained but put no concrete pressure on Netanyahu.

In 2015, Netanyahu flexed his aggressive public relations muscle again when he traveled to Washington at the invitation of Republican legislators—the opposition party controlled both chambers of Congress, the Senate and House of Representatives—to speak about President Obama’s negotiations with Iran over a nuclear arms control deal.

Netanyahu opposed it. ” This is a bad deal”, Netanyahu told a joint session of both US chambers. ” A very bad deal. We’re better off without it”. Democrats were outraged, one called the speech a” stick in Obama’s eye”.

Obama eventually signed an accord with Iran, but his successor, president Donald Trump, abandoned the agreement.

Netanyahu may get another chance to directly attack a US foreign policy initiative in front of Congress. Last week, Mike Johnson, the Republican leader of the House, said he intends to have Netanyahu address both houses of Congress on the Gaza issue. ” I would love to have him”, Johnson said. ” We’ll certainly extend that invitation”.

If the visit happens, it would occur in the heat of US presidential campaign pitting Biden versus Trump.

Schumer, who had said in his critique of Netanyahu, that the Israeli leader had “lost his way” did not object. In a brief statement, he reverted to his role as staunch friend of Israel. ” I will always welcome the opportunity for the prime minister of Israel to speak to Congress, in a bipartisan way”, he said.

Translation: do n’t attack Biden’s Gaza policy in the same way you did Obama’s Iran plans.