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A Foreign Policy Bungle 'Killing Tens of Thousands'

© AP Photo / Hatem AliPalestinians sit by the rubble Abu Helal family in Rafah refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. The strike killed dozens of people
Palestinians sit by the rubble Abu Helal family in Rafah refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. The strike killed dozens of people - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.06.2024
While the US has framed the potential ceasefire deal as an Israeli proposal, Israeli officials are now trying to distance themselves from that narrative. Ophir Falk, Netanyahu’s top foreign policy advisor, said there would not be a ceasefire until all of Israel’s “objectives” are met.
A senior Israeli official reportedly said on Monday that US President Joe Biden's description of Israel's ceasefire proposal was “not accurate” and claimed that Biden had only announced a partial version of the ceasefire plan in his speech on Friday. The official said they did not agree to fully withdraw their troops from the Gaza Strip, adding that they would only do so once their “objectives are met including destroying Hamas’ military and governing capabilities”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own government is also pressuring him to reject the proposed plan, with Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir threatening to resign should the prime minister accept the proposed deal. Hamas released a statement and said they viewed the proposed plan “positively” while a senior US official said the proposal is nearly identical to one which Hamas accepted from Egypt the same day Israel launched its attack on Rafah.
Both the Israeli official, and National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby have argued about where the plans for the ceasefire had originated, with the US and Israel accusing the other of concocting the ceasefire plans. Robert Fantina, a Palestine activist, author and journalist joined Sputnik’s The Critical Hour to discuss the rampant miscommunication between the Western allies.
“Biden made the announcement, announced the potential deal, saying that he got the information and got the terms of the deal from Israeli officials. Now, the Israelis are saying, no,” said Fantina. “So, Biden, of course, is desperate to bring this genocide to a close because throughout the US people are blaming him for it, as they should. He has financed it.”
“And, he's up for reelection in just six months. So, it might have been a political speech and he's trying to appease the people who are anti-genocide, in the US there are a lot of them, especially the young people whose votes he needs,” the journalist and author added. “But the idea that he said he got it from Israel and Israel is just saying this is not a deal that we agreed to, it also may say something about Joe Biden's cognitive abilities at this point.”
“And as they bungle their way through, they're killing tens of thousands of people in the process,” Fantina added. “But this is a time for statesmanship, for diplomacy and for positive action and neither Biden nor Netanyahu is up to that job.”
Sputnik’s Garland Nixon then suggested that this miscommunication between the US and its ally could be a sign of “complete dysfunction not only in the Biden administration” but in the relationship between the governing powers of the US and Israel.
“Biden seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place between coming down the right side of history, coming down to the side of international law, justice and human rights, and also appeasing Israel and the Israeli lobbies. So he's struggling for some kind of foothold that's going to give it some credibility and as has been the case for the last several months, he's failing,” said Fantina.
“Israel has said the war will last at least another seven months, which takes us past the next election. People aren't going to forget. They've seen horrific, horrific pictures of burned and mutilated children, body parts, of children starving to death,” he added. “These are not things they're going to forget about very soon, especially, as you mentioned, the under 30 [years of age] group that's very politically attuned, very politically active and they are rejecting Biden by huge numbers today.”

“[That] doesn't mean they're going to vote for Trump, but there are third-party candidates that they can vote for,” Fantina added. “Those candidates don't have a chance of winning due to the way the US elections are set up. But, it's a protest vote. You voted for the lesser of two evils when it doesn't seem as there's much difference to them. Why vote for evil at all?”

On Sunday, it was reported that Smotrich had threatened Palestinians in the West Bank by telling them that their cities could turn “into ruins” like those in Gaza, according to an article published to Antiwar.com. The finance minister said in Hebrew: “Our message to the neighbors beyond the fence in Tulkarem, Nur Shams, Shuweika, and Qalqilya: We will turn you into ruined cities like in the Gaza Strip if the terror you are exerting on the settlements continues.”
Rohan Talbot, a director of advocacy and campaigns for the UK-based Medical Aid for Palestinians said to take Smotrich’s threats “seriously” and claimed that “refugee camps and Area C communities” have already fallen under attack. Since October 7, Israeli forces have killed over 500 Palestinians in the West Bank.

“Smotrich's threat is shocking. How can any world leader outside of Israel hear that and continue to support the Israeli government? This is horrifying, not only for the people in the West Bank, but the people of Lebanon, in Yemen and all surrounding areas, which are going to get involved in this,” Fantina responded.

“Saudi Arabia has wanted to normalize relations with Israel based on a Palestinian state. But, if Israel is going to slaughter the people of the West Bank the way that it slaughtered people in the Gaza Strip, this isn't going to fly with the people in Saudi Arabia,” he added. “Smotrich's threats, which are appalling on any level, are only - if he brings it to fruition - going to increase instability, increase violence, and increase death.”
Actress and progressive activist Cynthia Nixon said on Friday that it was “shameful” of Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to co-sign a formal letter alongside other Congress leaders that invited Netanyahu to address a joint session in Congress. Nixon then suggested that “perhaps Netanyahu can be arrested for his war crimes on the Senate floor.” The Jewish-led human rights group IfNotNow also condemned the invitation, while US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said he would boycott the event.
On Saturday, Netanyahu accepted the invitation to speak to a joint session of Congress, calling it a “privilege” to present in front of the American people and the world the “truth about our just war”. The prime minister’s visit could present challenges, though, as the International Criminal’s Court has issued a warrant for his arrest.
“Studies have shown that the people of the US have very little influence over government policies. The government is representative of the lobbies that support them and pro-Israeli lobbies are among the largest and most significant supporters of members of Congress,” said Fantina. “He should be arrested in the US, but the US plays by its own rules and doesn't care about international law. But, the fact that he's been invited by the Republican leadership, the Democratic leadership to speak to Congress is in and of itself shocking.”
“What we're going to see, though, is some members will not attend,” the author said of Netanyahu’s tentative speech to Congress. “Some who do attend may respond in some way publicly. There may be disruption of his speech by outside people who support human rights and international law. Although security is going to be extremely heavy if he does come and it will be next to impossible for any protester to get anywhere near [him].”
Thus far an estimated 36,439 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and 82,627 wounded since October 7, according to the Palestinian enclave’s Health Ministry. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that practically no health services remain in Rafah after the al-Helal al-Emirati hospital closed, Sputnik reported on Sunday.
A US flag is seen through a hole torn in an Israel national flag, as they wave in the wind at a horse ranch, near the southern Israeli town of Sderot, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.06.2024
Israel, US Point Fingers in Potential Ceasefire Deal
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