Navigating the Tightrope: President Biden's High-Stakes Visit to Israel Amidst Conflict

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman, Jordan, on Friday. PHOTO: POOL/REUTERS

In the midst of a tumultuous conflict between Israel and Hamas, U.S. President Biden is preparing for a visit to Israel. This trip, scheduled for Wednesday, is not just a diplomatic mission, but a show of solidarity with America's closest ally in the Middle East. The timing of the visit, however, is fraught with risks, both political and physical, as it comes during a time of war.

The recent surprise attack by Hamas on Israel has been described as the deadliest in half a century, prompting a significant response from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The IDF has launched a series of attacks on over 200 targets in Gaza, including Hamas' operational headquarters and other strategic locations.

The situation in Gaza is increasingly dire, with aid workers warning of a looming humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been forced to evacuate from the north to the south of the territory, following orders issued by Israel's military. The IDF has stated that it plans to "operate significantly in Gaza City in the coming days" and has urged residents to move south for their protection.

Source: staff reports

The escalating violence has far-reaching implications, not just for Israel and Gaza, but also for the broader Middle East and global diplomacy. The surprise attack by Hamas has complicated Washington's efforts to broker a major pact to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The situation has also injected new urgency into President Biden's upcoming visit to Israel, with the aim of reinforcing American commitment to Israel's security and addressing the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

President Biden's visit is an extraordinary show of support to Israel in the midst of war. This trip is akin to his brief visit to Ukraine in February to shore up international support for President Volodymyr Zelensky. Just as his trip to Kyiv came as Ukraine was on the cusp of a major military operation, the visit to Jerusalem comes as hundreds of thousands of Israeli troops are poised to fight their way through the jammed urban landscape of Gaza.

Despite the escalating violence and the humanitarian crisis, the spirit of resilience is evident. As one IDF officer stated, "We will never erase Gaza from the map. We will never kill 2.8 million people because that’s not us. We won’t do that"3. This sentiment underscores the complexity of the situation and the urgent need for a peaceful resolution.Sources:

  1. Biden Faces Risks in Wartime Visit to Israel - The New York Times
  2. Israel-Hamas War Impact Could Tip Global Economy Into Recession - Bloomberg
  3. Hamas and Israel: The Current Situation and Looking Ahead - CSIS
  4. Humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens ahead of anticipated Israeli invasion against Hamas
  5. Biden trip to Israel would have security, political risks | Reuters