Israel leaves Biden with few options as breach over Rafah operation grows

Israeli leaders said the army had enough munitions on hand to proceed with its plans in Rafah, despite US President Joe Biden's threat of pausing some arms deliveries. Israel, its close ally, has put the US in an awkward position, according to observers. They attribute this situation to the deep-rooted flaws in the US political system.

President Biden quoted by CNN threatened to stop the supply of specific weapons if Israeli soldiers entered populated areas of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The threat was widely interpreted as a turning point with relation to Israel in the seven-month conflict. 

Reacting to Biden's announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone." Other Israeli officials also expressed disappointment and criticism over Biden's remarks. 

On Friday, the General Assembly is scheduled to hold a vote on Palestine's bid to become a full member of the UN, a move seen by many as largely symbolic. In a surprising move, Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan spoke on behalf of the US, stating, "If it is approved, I expect the US to completely stop funding the UN and its institutions, in accordance with American law." 

Asked why before any official stance of the US has been taken, an Israeli diplomat stationed at the UN seems to have made diplomatic decisions on behalf of the US, Chinese experts said the development was not surprising. 

Earlier, the US House of Representatives surprisingly passed an "Anti-Semitism Awareness Act" aimed at addressing rising antisemitism among college students who are angered by Israel's acts in Gaza and the US' long-standing biased Middle East policy.

Ding Long, a professor from the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times that despite increasing pressure from the international community, the Biden administration has stood firm with Israel by providing weapons and other assistance. But this time, Biden is eager to remove the burden of Israel and doesn't want it to become a negative factor for his election campaign. 

A few days ago, during the negotiations in Cairo, the US dispatched the CIA director in hope of achieving a deal between Israel and Palestine to cool down the conflict. However, the current problem is that Netanyahu, whose position as prime minister is in peril, simply does not listen to the US, and proceeding the war is the only option for Netanyahu to continue political career, Ding noted. "Once you get on the tiger's back, it's hard to get off again."

The military possesses the required weaponry for its planned operations, including those in Rafah, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated on Thursday.

Despite conditioning its military shipments to Israel, Biden remained committed to making sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to those attacks. Li Jianmin, academic dean of the Institute of Central Asian Studies at Northwest Normal University, told the Global Times that the Biden administration cannot risk completely angering Israel. 

One reason for the Biden administration not to completely turn its back on Israel is that protecting Israel is in line with its overall policy of playing a bigger role in the Middle East, Li said. 

Israel's recent actions in Rafah has forced approximately 80,000 residents to flee their homes, with most seeking refuge in Khan Younis or Deir al Balah. These areas are lacking essential services, according to the United Nations. 

The Israeli military instructed around 110,000 civilians to leave parts of Rafah, which has become a haven for many displaced Palestinians living in inadequate conditions, media reports said. Previously, Jordan condemned Israeli settlers attacked a humanitarian aid convoy on its way to Erez crossing in northern Gaza. 

Observers warned of more humanitarian disasters as they predicted Netanyahu is determined to continue the military operation in Rafah. Lin Jian, a Chinese spokesperson for foreign ministry on Friday also condemned Israel's behavior of attacking aid convoy, urging Israel to implement international humanitarian aid law and provide guarantee for the aid.

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