The World Today for March 18, 2024


The Face of Defiance


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who is the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the US, recently delivered a speech criticizing Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, and calling for new elections in Israel, reported CNN. Afterward, President Joe Biden, who has been critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza lately, said Schumer made a good speech, added NBC News.

Writing in the Hill, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Alton Frye said the rift between American and Israeli leaders over the war jeopardized one of the closest alliances in the geopolitical global order today. The Wall Street Journal similarly described the situation as a “serious crisis.” World Politics Review, meanwhile, argued that American support for Israel was “becoming all cost, no benefit.”

In an interview in Politico, Netanyahu rejected those assertions, saying he was destroying Hamas, the Iranian-backed leaders of Gaza. On October 7, Hamas and its allies killed around 1,200 people and kidnapped more than 200 hostages. Around half have been released.

These diplomatic disagreements underscore how even Israel’s friends have become uneasy over the carnage in Gaza. Israeli forces have killed more than 31,000 Palestinians and wounded almost 73,000, reported Reuters, citing Gaza’s health authorities. A quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million people face famine.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong recently said Netanyahu had to end the fighting in Gaza and address the “humanitarian catastrophe” in the region or else risk further losing international support, noted the Times of Israel. She and her counterparts in Canada and New Zealand have called for ceasefires so that aid can reach Gazans.

German officials have also appealed to Netanyahu not to attack Rafah, a city on the Egyptian border, where more than 1 million Palestinians have fled in order to avoid Israeli attacks, according to the Anadolu Agency.

Netanyahu has since approved such an attack, the Guardian reported.

Many Israelis agree with Netanyahu’s foreign critics. Thousands have taken to the streets demanding that Netanyahu, a conservative whose coalition depends on hardline religious political parties, step down to allow other leaders to bring an end to the violence. Israeli security forces have used water cannons against the demonstrators, the Telegraph wrote.

Netanyahu is defying the world, wrote Politico, with his stance on Rafah, ceasefires, aid, and most of all, on rejecting the possibility of a Palestinian state. “The positions that I espouse are supported by the overwhelming majority of Israelis who say to you after October 7: ‘We don’t want to see a Palestinian state,’” he said.

Still, according to columnist David Ignatius of the Washington Post, this stance may lead to Israel’s allies helping – or forcing – Israel to become Gaza’s rescuers.

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