Chao Deng, Carrie Keller-Lynn and Daniel Michaels
WSJ, Feb. 11, 2024
“… you will not get a hostage deal unless Hamas is under significant pressure.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, raising the stakes in his widening rift with President Biden during a tempestuous election year, took his message directly to American voters in two television interviews Sunday, arguing that Israel must pursue Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah until the militant group is destroyed.
Netanyahu’s determination to crush the military power of Hamas, which Israel, the U.S. and other countries deem a terrorist organization, runs against increasing concern in the White House that Israel is pressing a military campaign that is causing a humanitarian crisis and has no clear resolution.
Shaping both men’s agendas are constricting domestic political realities. Biden is locked in a brutal fight for re-election against likely Republican candidate Donald Trump, who—like many members of Congress from both parties—vocally supports Israel.
Biden also faces growing pressure from his party’s left wing and crucial pockets of minority voters to moderate his support for Israel and bring the four-month war to an end. Palestinians in Gaza have been bracing for an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah after Netanyahu ordered the country’s military to prepare a plan for evacuating the city.
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