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Headlines Tell Story of Growing Gulf between US, Israel over Hamas War, Palestinian State

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Anyone interested in gauging the growing gulf between Washington and Jerusalem concerning Israel's wartime struggle need only check out a few headlines in Sunday's edition of The Jerusalem Post.

The banner headline on page one above the fold, referring to a ceasefire and hostage exchange deal with Hamas, reads, "PM (Benjamin Netanyahu): 'Delusional Demands Make Deal Impossible.'"

Another headline, still above the fold: "Rescued Captives Urge Netanyahu to Push for Deal."

A third front-page headline, another quote from Netanyahu, referring to White House, European and Arab pressure to declare a Palestinian state before the war is resolved: "Israel Won't Submit to International Dictates on Unilateral Statehood."

On page two of the Post, two other headlines: "(US Vice President) Harris Says Two-State Solution for Israel, Palestinians Possible." The sub-headline reads, "VP denounces (Israeli) isolationism in remarks to leaders at Munich parley."

And finally, another Page 2 headline: "Black Bishops to Washington: Halt Israel Amid Genocide.'"

Such a coherent message from a set of headlines doesn't normally emerge to present a picture of the stark divisions; but in this case, the diplomatic and media battle for the narrative hanging over the air, ground, and underground conflicts in Gaza and northern Israel is apparent.

Despite the hugs in photo-ops, the White House disdain for Netanyahu was evident even before he returned to Israel's highest office late in 2022. The administration did what it could to benefit his political opponents during the fall, 2022 campaign; and officials from the top down snubbed the prime minister for months after he was elected.

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The October 7th Hamas massacre and kidnapping of more than 1,200 Israelis dramatically changed the landscape for a time. Almost all of Washington – Democrats and Republicans – supported the military response to the shocking attack. President Joe Biden even made a solidarity visit to Israel, along with a steady stream of State Department and Pentagon officials.

From the outset, Israeli political and military leaders cautioned that victory in the war would take – at the least – many months.

During that time, the well funded anti-Israel (and often anti-Semitic) demonstrators in the United States and Europe, as well as in the Arab world, raised their voices on social media and took to the streets.

For the Biden administration, the prospect of slogging through the 2024 presidential election campaign season while losing hundreds, if not thousands, of youthful and minority volunteers in swing states is untenable.

The Democratic Party, riven by divisions and the threat of losing donations over the base's charges that the conflict in Gaza has morphed into a "genocide" against Palestinians, is worried about holding the party together through a very rocky time in U.S. history.

Hence, the urgency to take the Israel-Hamas issue off the table, or at least to achieve some sort of political victory over what it perceives to be a dogmatic and intractable Israeli coaltion government.

The stakes are a bit higher for Netanyahu. Israel's longest-serving prime minister has warned for decades that Iran poses an existential threat to his people. Nearly five months of intelligence gleaned from the Hamas tunnels and elsewhere revealed an even greater understanding of how the Tehran regime bankrolls and weaponizes its proxies on Israel's war frontiers in Gaza, the Lebanon border region and in Yemen.

Jerusalem's government coalition will stay united against the existential threat, even if – perhaps especially if – the world recognizes a declared Palestinian state.

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About The Author


John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN New since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.