Home » U.S. finally toughens stance on Israel, too little too late?
Defence Global News Middle East Military News

U.S. finally toughens stance on Israel, too little too late?

On March 22, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted on a draft resolution proposed by the United States on the situation in the Gaza Strip. Russia and China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, voted against it. In this way, in CNN‘s words, after “vetoing three previous UN draft resolutions” on the ceasefire in Gaza, the United States finally saw “its own ceasefire proposal rejected.”

The draft resolution stated the “imperative” for “an immediate and sustained ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides,” facilitating “essential” aid delivery and supporting ongoing talks between Israel and Hamas militants to create a sustainable end to the hostilities, tied to the release of hostages. Regarding the draft’s failure to pass, the UNSC’s meetings coverage said that the resolution would have determined the need for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza, but some speakers criticized the draft for being vague and “lacking legal binding commitments to the Israeli authorities in several key areas.”

Indeed, both Russia and China mentioned in the Explanation of Vote that the U.S. did not explicitly demand an immediate ceasefire in the draft but only called for it. China also believes that an immediate ceasefire should be unconditional. Both China and Russia support another draft resolution formed through collective consultations among the 10 non-permanent members of the UNSC. France said it would also introduce a new draft resolution.

I believe this voting result did not surprise any party in the UNSC. After all, they had been consulting and, of course, debating the U.S. draft resolution over the past few weeks. Although the draft was not passed, it is not without gains for the U.S. This draft seeks to appease the increasingly strong calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza from both the U.S. and the international community, so that the pressure faced by Washington can be somewhat alleviated.

For Israel, the result of the U.S. draft is not too bad, or is actually pretty good. But in the eyes of Israel, which is accustomed to being extremely favored by the U.S. on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, this draft is already quite unfriendly.

Indeed, there have been some disputes between the U.S. and Israel recently over the Gaza war. If Israel continues its high-intensity war against Gaza, resulting in a large number of civilian casualties, U.S. President Joe Biden and lawmakers who support Israel will face greater criticism within the country. This is something American politicians must strive to avoid in an election year.

Moreover, this war has made Israel increasingly isolated in the international community, and Washington’s blind support for Israel will come at the expense of its international reputation in the rest of the world. This is what the U.S., which is focusing on world power competition, does not want to see. Therefore, the Biden administration has repeatedly asked Israel not to let the war burn to the city of Rafah in southern Gaza.

However, Israel has its reasons for continuing the war. First of all, many Israelis still hold a strong sense of revenge against Hamas. Following the new-round conflict on October 7 last year, there have been voices within Israel calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation, even during their counterattack against Hamas. As the head of the government, Netanyahu cannot absolve himself of the blame. Moreover, he has already been involved in lawsuits over the years. It is foreseeable that if the war cannot end in an acceptable way, Netanyahu will pay with his political life.

As a result, Israel and the U.S. are increasingly divided over the ongoing conflict. For example, the two countries also currently have different opinions on the two-state solution. Netanyahu and many Israelis do not believe that it is currently time to discuss a two-state solution. If Israel would accept the two-state solution, it could be seen as a victory for Hamas in its struggle against Israel, or a reward for “terrorism.” Therefore, Israel has little interest in the two-state solution that the Biden administration has repeatedly mentioned.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip, March 15, 2024. /CFP

From this point of view, there’s an obvious contradiction between the Biden administration and the Netanyahu administration, leading Washington to continuously put pressure on Israel. This week’s draft resolution proposed by the U.S. is an example. Compared with the previous U.S. position, this document has taken a rather tough stance on Israel.

But this is not enough. In addition to Russia and China’s vetoes, Algeria, collectively supported by Arab countries, also vetoed the U.S. draft resolution that is believed to favor Israel.

The rejection of the U.S. draft resolution once again confirmed the complexity of current international relations. What is most likely to be adopted by the UNSC in the future is a draft resolution jointly sponsored by multiple countries, excluding the five permanent members, or a draft resolution jointly supported by multiple countries including the U.S. and at least one of either China and Russia.

Source: CGTN