With prolonged Gaza war, Israel’s Netanyahu may outlast Biden

With prolonged Gaza war

GAZA CITY – The Israeli army will be fighting in Gaza for the next seven months at least, Israel’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said earlier this week.
The prediction drew concern over the fate of the Palestinian territory, which is already facing famine, mass displacement and daily Israeli violence that has killed more than 36,000 people since October 7.
A prolonged war also would harm Joe Biden’s re-election campaign in November, experts say, as the United States president already faces plummeting public support for his unequivocal backing of Israel.
Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center Washington DC think tank, said an Israeli offensive in Gaza that stretches beyond the US election on November 5 could mean Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlasts Biden.
“I would love to say that scenario is unrealistic, but I can’t. That scenario is real. And it could happen on November 5,” Jahshan told Al Jazeera.
For months, advocates have warned that Netanyahu has a personal political interest in prolonging the war to boost his political standing at home.
The reverse is true for Biden. Several public opinion polls in the US currently favour former Republican President Donald Trump to beat Biden in November — albeit by relatively a small margin.
Recent surveys in Israel also show Netanyahu recovering popularity and edging out his main rival, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz.
Josh Ruebner, a lecturer at Georgetown University’s Justice and Peace programme, said there is no doubt that the war on Gaza will diminish Biden’s re-election chances.
“The signs are clear. The writing is on the wall,” Ruebner told Al Jazeera.
“And should Biden decide to continue this lockstep support for Israel for another seven months, it’s not only going to kill tens of thousands more Palestinians, but it’s also going to lose him the election.”
Last Wednesday, a poll by the Arab American Institute (AAI) showed that Arab American support for Biden in key swing states is at 18 percent, down from 60 percent in 2020, largely because of his Gaza policies.
James Zogby, AAI’s president, said it would be politically “dangerous” for Biden and the Democratic Party if the war continued through the US election in November.
“It means that, if there is not something very dramatic the president does, then this is not going to be an easy election for him,” he told reporters during a virtual news briefing.
Zogby added that Biden does not only risk losing the support of Arab voters.
“Young people, Black people, Asian people are following this on a daily basis, seeing a genocide unfolding. They’re not insensitive to what they’re seeing,” he said.
“They’re horrified. And then the president says, ‘No red line was crossed. Let’s just continue doing what we’re doing.’ It is infuriating and hurtful.”
Still, Biden is not showing any signs of changing course in his pro-Israel policies, even as Netanyahu openly defies the White House’s calls to avoid civilian casualties and not invade Rafah, a city in southern Gaza.
The US president, for instance, signed off on an additional $14bn in aid to Israel last month. And this May, after threatening to withhold weapons shipments if Israel launched a major offensive in Rafah, media reports emerged that the Biden administration planned to nevertheless go through with a $1bn arms sale.
Ruebner said the Biden campaign is in denial about the impact of the president’s foreign policy on the elections.
“There’s a lot of fantasy and make-believe going on in Biden’s world that this is not impacting his chances to be re-elected,” he said. “But it clearly is. And if he allows Israel to continue this course of action through the end of the year, I think it’s going to play a huge role in him being defeated.” (Al Jazeera)