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White House Sandbagging Blinken’s Case for Peace in Gaza

While the Biden administration waffles on anti-Semitic campus chaos, Hamas takes heart.

During the 2016 campaign, presidential candidate and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina snapped at Hillary Clinton’s travels as secretary of state, suggesting that Clinton’s frequent trips were “activities, not accomplishments.” And so it seems true for Secretary of State Antony Blinken. On another Middle East jaunt (April 29-May 1), the US foreign policy chief attempted to resuscitate hostage negotiations with Hamas. Meanwhile, back home, President Joe Biden’s failure to confront pro-Hamas demonstrators on college campuses just emboldens the terrorist group.

Blinken Travels to the Middle East Again

Blinken met with the Middle East leaders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel, focused on solving the Hamas-initiated violence in Gaza with a ceasefire and return of hostages. Unfortunately, the backdrop for the talks did not prove promising. While the Israelis had put forth what Blinken described as a generous offer for a limited pause in the fighting, the Hamas organization has shown no inclination to discuss the offer.

In his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the US chief diplomat again pressed the importance of increasing the flow of humanitarian aid and effecting a ceasefire in Gaza. “The Secretary and the Crown Prince also discussed the urgent need to reduce region tensions, including a cessation of Houthi attacks undermining both freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and progress on the Yemen peace process,” the State Department readout of the meeting explained. The meeting notes did not include any solutions.

While in Amman, Jordan, in his discussions with King Abdullah II, Blinken carried similar messages. However, getting more assistance to the Palestinians gathered mostly in southern Gaza in the town of Rafah is a challenge. Before there can be an effective humanitarian effort, there must be a pause in the fighting and the release of hostages. The US foreign policy secretary emphasized the need for Hamas leadership to accept the proposal on the table.

Before departing Jordan, Blinken told reporters that his main topic for talks on May 1 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be how Israel can streamline and secure the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Ensuring foodstuffs and medical supplies reach the neediest is a high hurdle. Reports are plentiful that Hamas steals the pallets of aid faster than they can be distributed. Then, the terrorists sell it back to the Palestinian refugees. The sticking point is the need for the IDF to destroy the last Hamas strongholds in Rafah. As long as a substantial remnant of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists exists, Israel will not be secure.

Israel Open to Negotiations

Israel, for its part, has shown an openness to engage. “Israel’s latest offer would accept fewer hostages to be freed during the first phase of a new truce in Gaza, according to three Israeli officials, offering a hint of hope for ceasefire negotiations,” The New York Times reported. The basic tenet of the new offerings from Egypt ties a ceasefire to hostage release in a way that is more advantageous to Hamas. According to The Wall Street Journal, Egyptian officials explained:

“Israeli hostages to be freed under the Egyptian proposal would include children, women — including female soldiers — and elderly people in need of urgent medical attention … They would be swapped for around 500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. The handover would be followed by a 10-week ceasefire, during which the two sides would continue talking and at least 300,000 to 400,000 Palestinians now sheltering in Rafah would be able to return to their homes elsewhere in the strip.”

From a tactical ground combat perspective, this proposal puts all of the risk on the Israel Defense Force, having to re-engage Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist fighters who infiltrate back into their positions to combat with the IDF. In any event, Hamas has not responded to the proposal. Why should they?

The uprisings on US college campuses supporting the terrorists give Hamas butchers cause to believe Israel will be forced by public opinion to cease its war on the terrorist organization. Furthermore, Hamas will not have to make any compromises. Unfortunately for Israel, the Biden administration’s lack of censure prompts Hamas to believe it can benefit from the campus disturbances, convinced that the terrorist organization will triumph over Israel and the United States in the arena of public opinion.

The White House’s failure to denounce the anti-Semitic campus agitators and put pressure on university administrators to enforce policies that control the violent disturbances has perpetuated the out-of-control demonstrations. Hamas is cheered on by such campus unrest in the United States and the diffidence of the White House to confront them. The result for Blinken is diplomacy spoiled.

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliate.

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