Israel, Hamas, Iran: What Is U.S. Policy for South-West Asia?

One day before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a tour of the Middle East on May 25, a spokesman for the State Department announced that he would be “focused primarily on ensuring that the cease-fire sticks”. Blinken himself had told CNN on May 23 that the goal of the U.S., with “President Biden leading the effort”, was “to end the violence”. If that is the goal, one must ask why Joe Biden waited eleven days before increasing the pressure on the Netanyahu government to stop the devastating air assault on Gaza. Israeli attacks killed more than 260 Palestinians, including more than 60 children, destroyed the housing of over 77,000 people, and left most residents with no electricity and more than 800,000 with no access to clean water.

Blinken is to visit Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt on his tour. According to a statement made by President Biden on May 24, his secretary of state will spearhead a “coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas.” Given that Hamas is the elected government for the residents of Gaza, it is not clear how reconstruction of the bombed out city can take place without coordination with that government and if Israel opposes any effort that would benefit it! Biden also stated that he would make no effort to restart a “peace process”, with an aide saying this is because there is little prospect that such an attempt could succeed.

The matter of what to do about Hamas brings into focus a larger problem facing the current U.S. administration, directly related to the issue of Iran. President Biden is pursuing the prospect of reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action with the Islamic Republic, which Donald Trump walked out of in 2018.

Republican opponents of Biden say that his openness to renew the agreement has emboldened the “radicals” there, which freed them to unleash Hamas, described by them as an Iranian proxy force. The Republicans are therefore accusing Biden of being weak in his support of Israel against “Iranianbacked terrorism.” Meanwhile, the majority of Democrats also insists that the U.S. must give full backing to Israel, which is consistent with Biden’s strong pro-Israel stance through his long political career.

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