Secretary of State Antony Blinken conveyed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent discussions that Hamas cannot be defeated through military means. He emphasized that a military solution is not viable and urged Israel to consider accepting the establishment of a Palestinian state.
According to reports, Netanyahu has rejected this proposition.
In a departure from the Biden administration’s stance as a defender of democratic principles, NBC News revealed on Wednesday that Blinken and President Biden are now attempting to find alternative ways to engage with Israel, bypassing its democratically-elected leader:
“Blinken told Netanyahu that ultimately there is no military solution to Hamas, according to the officials, and that the Israeli leader needs to recognize that or history will repeat itself and violence will continue. But, the officials said, Netanyahu was unmoved.
The officials said the Biden administration is trying to lay the groundwork with other Israeli and civil society leaders in anticipation of an eventual post-Netanyahu government. In an attempt to work around Netanyahu, Blinken also met individually with members of his war Cabinet and other Israeli leaders, including opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, officials said.”
However, Blinken faces two significant challenges. Firstly, Israelis firmly believe that they have the capability to win the war and are already making progress towards that goal. Secondly, Palestinians themselves prioritize the destruction of Israel over the establishment of a state, making the prospects of a successful statehood unlikely.
Regarding the first point, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), provided a comprehensive update on the war’s advancement during a briefing on Wednesday night. While the fighting in the southern part of Gaza remains difficult, the IDF has effectively dismantled Hamas in the northern and central regions of the territory. It is in the south where Hamas leaders are suspected to be hiding underground, utilizing over 100 Israeli hostages as bargaining chips and human shields.
The Israeli population is overwhelmingly determined to eradicate Hamas, which marks a significant shift in attitudes since the October 7 terrorist attack. Following the attack, Israelis were largely willing to overlook Hamas as long as it refrained from targeting them. However, the brutal killing of 1,200 individuals and the abduction of 253 more, predominantly civilians, has altered the Israeli perspective across the political spectrum.
Even many left-wing Israelis, who previously identified themselves as more sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause than the Palestinians themselves, now perceive all Palestinians as potential threats. According to Gallup, nearly two-thirds of Israelis currently oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state due to the actions of Hamas and the pro-terror sympathies exhibited by the corrupt Palestinian Authority governing the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank. This represents a significant departure from the stance held by most Israelis a decade ago when twice as many adults supported an independent Palestinian state compared to those who opposed it (61% in favor, 30% against). The change in sentiment can be attributed to the rocket attacks and acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas.
Despite this shift in Israeli public opinion, Blinken and President Joe Biden remain committed to the traditional, unsuccessful approach to Middle East peacemaking, which prioritizes the Palestinian issue above all else. In contrast, former President Donald Trump rejected this notion, and the outcome was historic.
Currently, Biden and Blinken are endeavoring to establish new peace agreements, such as a Saudi-Israeli peace deal, with the condition that a Palestinian state is created. In contrast to the Arab world, Blinken is portraying Israelis as unprepared for peace. However, this perspective contradicts opinion polls, which indicate that the majority of Palestinians support Hamas’s terror attack on October 7. Arab public opinion reflects a similar sentiment, although the Abraham Accords have remained intact thus far.
According to NBC News, Blinken is also advocating for a deal where Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Interestingly, Saudi Arabia was on the verge of reaching a deal without the inclusion of a Palestinian state prior to October 7.
Reportedly, it was the Biden administration that actually hindered the progress of that deal by insisting on additional concessions for the Palestinians. These concessions were not demanded by the Saudis and the Palestinians did not agree to any compromises.