Commentary: Biden is stuck with Netanyahu. How does he move forward?

Storer H. Rowley, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Political News

Netanyahu knows that “the longer he drags out the war, the longer it takes for a state commission of inquiry to begin” looking into intelligence and military failures leading up to Oct. 7, she said.

“The truth is almost everyone in the country is still suffering from trauma in one way or another,” Epstein said, “and because the country is so small, everyone knows someone who lost someone on Oct. 7 or knows someone in the army or knows someone who was killed.”

The same is true in Gaza, where whole families have been lost. Biden has called for the protection of Palestinian civilians in the planned Israeli offensive to come in Rafah, the southern Gaza city where some 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge.

The war has bitterly divided American Jews and drawn outrage and cries of “genocide Joe” from younger voters and Arab and Muslim Americans. Biden’s unwavering support for Israel has hurt him in a presidential election year, with substantial numbers of Democrats voting “uncommitted” in protest in primaries. If that continues, it could cost him a close election.

To be sure, the administration rightly has championed Israel’s right to defend itself after Hamas terrorists went on a bloody rampage Oct. 7, killed 1,200 Israelis, raped and tortured victims and took 240 hostages back into Gaza. Hamas has no interest in peace or a two-state solution. It has promised more massacres, but it must accept a cease-fire and release the hostages now.

Netanyahu has also rejected Biden’s call for a two-state solution once the war ends. It’s the only viable path to peace — even though, after the trauma endured by both sides, that could well take years. A credible road to peace will require new Israeli and Palestinian leaders. As long as Netanyahu and his coalition won’t call new elections, Biden needs to work with him.


So, Biden’s stuck with Netanyahu. He could have slow-walked military assistance, but he hasn’t, said Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He could have demanded a complete cease-fire, but he hasn’t, preferring to urge Israel’s government to go ahead with a Rafah operation to root out Hamas — but only if they can do it cautiously with the least harm to Palestinian civilians. The U.S. abstention on the U.N. resolution was a rebuke more than a change in U.S. policy.

The lost Palestinian lives have been a generational catastrophe, and surviving civilians in Gaza now face imminent famine. The world must rally to help them. But Biden is right. There can be no lasting peace without subduing Hamas.


Storer H. Rowley, a former national editor and foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, teaches journalism and communication at Northwestern University.


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