Will Israel finally listen to Biden?

President Joe Biden threatened on Thursday to condition aid to Israel on its treatment of civilians in the Gaza Strip. But it’s not clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will take Biden’s threats seriously — or that he needs to.

Biden’s warning reflected American anxiety about the catastrophic humanitarian toll in Gaza. He is under growing pressure from senators, the public and reportedly even his own wife to do more to ease the crisis — but he has consistently been reluctant to do more than ask Netanyahu for better behavior.


Even on the same day that Israel killed seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen, the Biden administration approved a major new shipment of bombs and other weapons to Israel, The Washington Post reported.

Biden has long been a staunch supporter of Israel. He belongs to a generation for which the Holocaust was a living memory and saw Israel in its days as a fragile young nation besieged by strong neighbors. He has seemed unwilling to use American leverage against Israel by slowing or stopping weapons transfers, imposing end-use restrictions on those weapons or allowing tough resolutions through the U.N. Security Council.

The Biden administration did allow one Gaza resolution to go through, after vetoing three previous ones. But it then deflected questions about whether it would oblige Israel to comply by saying that the resolution was nonbinding anyway (others disagreed).

Before Biden’s latest threat, the White House position seemed pretty clear that the pipeline for weapons to Israel would continue, and there was nothing specific to indicate that there was some new red line.

“We make no bones about the fact that we have certain issues about some of the way things are being done,” a White House spokesperson, John Kirby, said Wednesday. “We also make no bones about the fact that Israel is going to continue to have American support for the fight that they’re in to eliminate the threat from Hamas.”

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