Home Uncategorized Bibi’s spats with US, own military raise questions on war’s future

Bibi’s spats with US, own military raise questions on war’s future


Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel this week engaged in increasingly public spats with his military brass, his right-wing coalition partners and his most powerful supporter, the White House. The cascading conflicts – all with allies who are on his side in the battle against Hamas – have renewed difficult questions about the future of the war and about the Israeli premier’s own political survival.
“We are fighting on several fronts,” Netanyahu said in a statement this week directed at his squabbling coalition partners – whom he told to “get a hold of themselves” – but he could easily have been describing himself. In the ninth month of the war, Netanyahu finds himself increasingly isolated. His pledges of “total victory” against Hamas are at odds with his military leadership, which has signalled that it wants to ease combat operations in the Gaza Strip and that only a ceasefire can bring home the remaining Israeli hostages. He has alternately placated and slapped down his right-wing allies, whose support he needs to remain in office but whose hawkish stances on the war and on Palestinian rights have drawn global condemnation.
Analysts say the combative strategy reflects Netanyahu’s need to balance competing interests – to show a domestic audience that he is standing up for the country amid rising global condemnation of the war, while keeping his right-wing allies just close enough that they don’t abandon him. Still, he is picking a high-stakes fight with the Biden administration, which has provided political cover for Israel’s devastating military campaign while supplying it with key weapons. On Monday, Prez Biden overcame congressional opposition to finalise one of the biggest US arms sales ever to Israel, an $18 billion deal for F-15 jets.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu posted a video lashing out at the US for withholding some heavy munitions, an apparent reference to the Biden administration’s decision to withhold a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs over concerns about their use in densely populated parts of Gaza. That video drew a sharp response Thursday from John Kirby, a White House spokesperson, who said there was “no other country that’s done more, or will continue to do more, than the US to help Israel defend itself.” The Israeli PM’s comments were “deeply disappointing and certainly vexing to us,” Kirby added.
More pressing for Netanyahu at home is the feud with his military. Going public with frustrations, the armed forces’ spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari appeared to criticise Netanyahu’s oft-repeated call for “absolute victory,” saying: “The idea that it is possible to destroy Hamas – that is throwing sand in the eyes of the public.” But Netanyahu has shown no sign of wanting to end war, refusing to endorse a US-backed ceasefire proposal.

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