Israel Palestine: Biden expecting 'de-escalation' says expert
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The US President will continue to sell arms to Benjamin Netanyahu while calling for de-escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict, Express.co.uk has been told. Violence flared up earlier this month following days of escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a holy hilltop compound in East Jerusalem. The conflict is now in its eleventh day, with rockets continuing to be fired from both the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Palestine’s Hamas.
International powers have since called for calm in the region, including Mr Biden.
On Wednesday, he told Israel’s Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu he expects a “significant de-escalation” in the Gaza conflict.
The US is one of Israel’s strongest allies and has so far opposed a joint UN Security Council statement on the conflict.
Critics were frustrated when it was reported that the Biden administration approved a $735million (£518m) arms sale to Israel this month.
Professor Julian Lindley-French, an internationally recognised strategic analyst and advisor in defence, said Mr Biden’s position was one of the most complex among Western powers.
He said the US is unlikely to cease its sales of arms unless it looked like a serious conflict in the wider Middle East region was likely as a result of the transactions.
When asked why Mr Biden won’t cut off arms sales to Israel, Professor Lindley-French, author of the new book ‘Future War’, told Express.co.uk: “Because that would cause an uproar in the US, it simply wouldn’t be seen as acceptable.
“The US is in effect the guarantor of Israel.
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“I could only imagine in the most extreme circumstances, if it was deemed that the IDF were behaving in a way which the Americans regarded as so dangerous as to threaten war across the entire region, would the US and congress agree to those kinds of sanctions.
“They might stop the odd shipment of arms, but they would never cut off what is the effective guarantee of Israeli’s existence; it’s a non-starter.”
The US, and both of its main parties, has traditionally taken a favourable approach to Israel.
Prof Lindley-French said beyond the moves that have become a script for US leaders to follow – “engaging with the parties in conflict, using diplomacy, leading engagements, talking to other powers in the region to try and calm things down” – not a lot can be done.
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He added: “Experience would suggest it is really hard to come up with a series of actions that would somehow solve the underlying problem.
“What we’ve got in a sense is ongoing containment that when there’s a tragedy it becomes more about containing that particular part of the crisis than believing there is any ‘Clinton moment’ when you could believe there was a two state solution.
“It’s a very entrenched and complicated thing involving many moving parts.”
US support for Israel is huge, with billions of dollars in aid being sent to the country, amounting to $188billion (£132bn) over the years, according to Vox.
The country has regularly vetoed unfavourable UN resolutions against Israel, including against settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Relations strengthened under former President Donald Trump after he formally recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, one of his most contentious moves to date.
Before Mr Biden called for a “significant de-escalation”, Mr Netanyahu said the Israeli military was “taking care of objectives”.
He added: “We’re not standing with a stopwatch.”
On Wednesday, four rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel.
Israel’s military responded by firing artillery shells at “a number of targets in Lebanese territory”.
It is not yet clear whether this exchange will prove to flare up conflict in the wider region, a point which Prof Lindley-French said could lead to the US’ withdrawal of arms sales.
Meanwhile, the site where the most recent skirmishes began, in East Jerusalem, is revered by both Muslims and Jews.
For Muslims, it is known as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary); Jews call it the Temple Mount.
Hamas has demanded Israel remove police from the region where Palestinian families face eviction by Jewish settlers, many of whom have migrated from countries like the US.
‘Future War and the Defence of Europe’, written by John R. Allen, Frederick Ben Hodges, and Julian Lindley-French, is published by Oxford University Press and out now.
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