Remarks Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly made during a meeting with the Israeli war cabinet is leading many to believe the Biden administration’s support for the country’s war against Hamas is waning.
According to a translated transcript of the conversation, Blinken argued Israel doesn’t have the “credit” for eliminating Hamas if doing so would take months, or longer.
Blinken: You can’t operate in southern Gaza in the way you did in the north. There are two million Palestinians there. You need to evacuate fewer people from their homes, be more accurate in the attacks, not hit UN facilities, and ensure that there are enough protected areas [for civilians]. And if not? Then not to attack where there is a civilian population. What is your system of operation?
IDF Chief Herzi Halevi: We follow a number of principles — proportionality, distinction, and the laws of war. There were instances where we attacked on the basis of those principles, and instances where we decided not to attack, because we waited for a better opportunity.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant: The entire Israeli society is united behind the goal of dismantling Hamas, even if it takes months.
Blinken: I don’t think you have the credit for that.
The secretary also reportedly pressed the cabinet over Israel’s plans for a post-war Gaza.
Blinken: You don’t want the Palestinian Authority on the day after. We understand that. The best way to kill an idea is to bring a better idea. The other states in the region need to know what you are planning.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: As long as I’m sitting in this chair, the Palestinian Authority, which supports, educates and finances terror, will not rule Gaza on the day after Hamas. (Times of Israel.
To the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz, the comments suggest the Biden administration is about to reverse course on its once-strong support of Israel’s effort.
Many others blasted the comments as “reprehensible.”
Netanyahu seemed unfazed by Blinken’s position.
“We are going to fight Hamas till we prevail, no matter how long it takes,” he said. “It’s a just war. It’s a war to end Hamas, the ISIS of Gaza. And it’s a war to bring the hostages back home — as long as it takes.”