Biden’s Official Turn Against Israel

What does this mean for the war and hostage negotiations?

What’s happening: Last week, President Joe Biden called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and threatened to change U.S. policy toward Israel fundamentally. This came after months of pressure on Israel to improve humanitarian efforts in Gaza and prevent military operations in Rafah — Hamas’s last stronghold.

  • Why it matters: This represents a significant turning point in both the Israel-Hamas War and the U.S.-Israel relationship.

  • The change: Biden no longer publicly states Hamas must be removed from power. He has also now disconnected a ceasefire deal from the release of Israeli hostages, and faces pressure from his party to cut off all arms shipments.

Negotiations: Israel responded to Biden’s statements with urgency. They sent a delegation to Cairo with an empowered mandate to reach a deal with Hamas for the release of hostages. The U.S. is presenting a deal to both sides, although Hamas claims “no progress” has been made as of Monday.

  • The issue: Biden’s pressure on Israel has given Hamas leverage in negotiations to make maximalist demands because they no longer feel any existential threat.

  • Also: Biden placed the onus on Israel to reach a deal despite having agreed to multiple ceasefires over the past few months — whereas Hamas has agreed to none.

  • Alternative: Without Hamas on board for a deal, Biden’s demands would require a unilateral ceasefire by Israel — leaving the hostages in captivity and Hamas in power — effectively accepting defeat.

Withdrawal: The Israel Defense Forces have withdrawn all but one brigade from Gaza. This possibly signals an end to high-intensity fighting and a transition to periodic raids against Hamas.

  • However: The IDF says it is simply giving its soldiers time to rest before an operation in Rafah.

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