By: Antoine Shalhat

On the 171st day of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, it was noted that there is a frequency in Israeli analyses confirming that Israel is living in a state of isolation in the international arena, but with an ominous disagreement between those who believe that this isolation carries great risks and those who estimate that it is still not dangerous.

We must point out that at the end of last February, former President of the Israeli National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbatt, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, confirmed that this international arena has become one of seven fronts in which Israel is collectively fighting a war that he described as existential, in addition to the fronts of Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iran (“Yisrael Hayome”, 29/2/2024).

Most of these analyses do not look at such indicators of isolation that are accumulating particularly in the countries of the European Union and the institutions of this union, and there is no doubt that they need a special pause, but they focus more than anything else on the latest developments in the situation of relations between Israel and the United States.

For example, the military analyst for Haaretz Amos Harel (24/3/2024) confirms that the current US administration, which showed clear support for Israel throughout the war and showed great tolerance for Netanyahu’s endurance of discussing the “day after” the war in the Strip, has recently changed its style. This is evident in the context of recent contacts at the United Nations on the wording of a Security Council resolution requesting a declaration of a ceasefire in the Strip, and the nature of the difficulties with the United States is evidenced by this week’s visits to the United States by Israeli officials. Initially, there is the emergency visit currently being made by Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant to beg to speed up the supply of US weapons to the Israeli army. After that, the visit of Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and National Security Council President Tzasahi Hangbi comes at the request of US President Joe Biden of Netanyahu to discuss the military operation in Rafah, which the latter is launching almost daily.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Israel, and Israeli media reports agreed that his meeting with Netanyahu reflected what was described as a gap in public positions between the two countries, as Netanyahu announced that the Israeli army should enter Rafah to “liquidate the remnants of the Hamas battalions,” and if the US administration opposes this, “Israel will do it alone,” that is, despite America’s opposition. On a practical level, Netanyahu stated that such an operation would not begin during Ramadan and that it would require a long preparation. In contrast, Blinkin warned Israel’s “war cabinet” that Israel might be suspended for a long time in the Strip if it did not crystalize an exit strategy.

In the latest development, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said she did not rule out that there would be U.S. consequences for Israel if it went on a ground operation in Rafah (an interview with ABC, Sunday). Harris noted that U.S. officials have informed the Israelis that any major military operation in Rafah would be a grave mistake. She also noted that too many innocent Palestinians had been killed.

According to the political analyst for Yedioth Ahronoth, Nadav Eyal, on Monday (25/3), Harris’ statements against any Israeli operation in Rafah did not come by chance. In his opinion, nearly half a year after the most horrific “character” in the history of the country that has sparked exceptional solidarity in the whole world, Israel finds itself amid an unprecedented situation of international isolation on the one hand, and amid a confrontation with the United States on several tactical issues on the other. Although the US and Israeli sides strategically agree that Hamas should not rule the Gaza Strip, that the Israeli kidnappers detained in the Gaza Strip should be released, and that Iran and its allies should be intruded on, these important consensuses are just addresses at best, and are just slogans at worst. Most importantly, in Eyal’s reading, Harris stressed that all possibilities are on the US administration’s agenda not against Iran but in response to an Israeli military operation in Rafah that is being launched contrary to the US administration’s opinion. Of course, Americans can, for example, significantly reduce the frequency of arms shipments to Israel, and offer to limit the shipment or ban the use of offensive weapons. They can also remove the diplomatic Iron Dome and abandon the policy of non-veto in the UN Security Council. Despite all this, “the Israeli government is still engaged in crusts and nothing more than foolish,” Eyal said.

In the past few days, Israeli media reported that internal reports by representatives of Israel in the United States spoke of “a very serious situation in everything related to the coverage of the American media to Israel.” One of these reports said that the media in the United States waited for a signal from the US administration hinting at policy change, and this reference reached, as soon as it arrived, it escaped its head and sharp criticisms against Israel were published that had been in the editors all the time. The pressure on the Biden administration to harden its attitudes toward Israel, and require military supplies to change Israeli policies, remains a warning sign about the future.

According to one Israeli analysis, if some want to compare it as if we were standing at a light signal, “we are now standing in front of a dark orange signal” (“Edioth Ahronoth,” 23/3/2024). There is a change in attitudes of conservative parties usually in favor of Israel, and while the conservative American media has in the past fully supported Israeli steps, voices have begun to be heard, these days, voices questioning the proportionality of Israeli hostilities. Although it is not expected, temporarily, to hear from these media demands for a ceasefire, without making a real change that will press the humanitarian issue in Gaza and/or talk about prospects for a political solution, criticism in the US media will escalate.

It was also stated in those Israeli reports that last month, the media in the United States turned to focusing their attention on the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, with a special focus on the suffering of the residents of Rafah in light of the potential to expand the ground campaign and storm this city. Major media outlets have flooded screens and newspapers with images of hungry, traumatized children, and the ruins of homes and hospitals. As for the reports and personal stories of Rafah, they sparked sympathy for Palestinian suffering and anger at Israeli military activity.

Overall, Israeli reports on the latest developments in the United States note the following:

First, although most American media still avoids accusing Israel of causing the general cause of crisis and war, and does not deny Israel’s “right to defend itself,” there is a heated debate in the pillars of opinion about the proportionality of the continuation of the military campaign in its current form, and about its ethics.

Second, the critical voices that were scissored in the past now have a broader platform, and many reports are focussed on the sheer scale of human damage and harm they cause to innocent people, which many analysts assert is unjustified, and inconsistent with global ethical values. Opinion columnists known for their previous support for Israel have also begun to acknowledge that dangerous images seen from the Strip about the conduct of military actions are beginning to undermine the “legality of war.”

Third, against the backdrop of all of the above, a clear discourse began to grow among liberal writers in the United States. The authors of this discourse believe that the Biden administration, through its policy of supplying Israel with military aid and diplomatic umbrella, is indirectly responsible for the situation, or at least describe this administration as capable of ending the war.

Perhaps the most important indication of this presentation is whether all the previous developments will be related to the next event of the developments of the Israeli war, especially in terms of ending them and stopping the suffering of the people in the Gaza Strip, which exceeded all perceptions.

This article was first published in Arabic on website. read it Arabic here

English version is provided by Apple translation service