War in Gaza: How the US Diplomatic Apparatus is Being Stretched to its Breaking Point

A security guard forcefully opened the door of Antony Blinken’s armored car as the US secretary of state confidently walked out along a row of yellow barricades.

“We are committed to bringing them back safely,” he stated firmly, holding the hands of Israeli demonstrators in Tel Aviv who were demanding a resolution to the situation involving the hostages held by Hamas.

It was a remarkable moment, although not entirely unplanned.

The street was filled with security officials preparing his route towards the protesters.

We, as members of the travelling press, were informed about the upcoming interaction in the 20 minutes or so beforehand. It was captured on camera.

This was a powerful statement from the highest-ranking American diplomat to both the Israeli public and its prime minister. It emphasized the unwavering commitment of the US, its active involvement, and its determination to do everything possible to achieve a ceasefire-for-hostage-release agreement.

Put simply, the US is making efforts to halt the war, although they have set strict conditions.

Washington is facing increasing pressure, both at home and abroad, as a result of the ongoing crisis in Gaza and the alarming number of civilian casualties.

President Joe Biden and Mr Blinken have been actively urging Israel to increase aid and work on a plan to ensure the long-term stability of the territory.

However, as the situation worsens, it is becoming more evident that American influence has its limitations.

Mere hours before the incident captured at the barricades, the US had turned to a vote in the UN Security Council in an attempt to influence the actions of its ally.

This indicated President Biden’s increasing frustration. The American-drafted statement urged Israel to increase its assistance to Gaza in response to the UN’s grave concerns about the looming threat of famine.

The current process mediated by Qatar has been endorsed, aiming to secure a ceasefire in exchange for the release of hostages by Hamas.

However, it also cautioned Israel about the possibility of a military attack on the city of Rafah, where over 1.4 million Palestinians who have been displaced reside. The warning emphasized that such an offensive could potentially breach international humanitarian law.

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The resolution was not successful. It was opposed by Russia and China.

Addressing the audience at Ben Gurion airport on Friday afternoon, Mr. Blinken strongly criticized those who opposed it. He suggested that their actions were motivated by factors unrelated to the main issue, and cautioned that an offensive in Rafah could result in Israel losing international backing.

“The potential consequences include an increased loss of civilian lives, a greater disruption to the delivery of humanitarian aid, a potential decrease in international support for Israel, and potential threats to its long-term security and reputation,” he stated.

In the midst of the deepening divide between Washington and the Israeli leader, Mr. Netanyahu responded to Mr. Blinken’s evaluation.

“I expressed my desire for us to proceed with the backing of the United States,” stated the prime minister, “however, if necessary, we are prepared to proceed independently.”

This was a force being resisted, despite its influence.

‘Increased access to humanitarian aid is crucial’

I’ve witnessed the impressive power of US diplomacy up close this week, accompanying Mr. Blinken on a whirlwind tour of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in an effort to address the ongoing crisis.

For those who scrutinize America’s actions, the contradiction is evident: the US is providing weapons to a crucial ally, all the while urging them, albeit unsuccessfully, to take greater measures in mitigating the civilian hardships caused by the military operations.

A recent food security assessment, supported by the UN, has highlighted the dire situation in Gaza. According to the assessment, 1.1 million people in the region are currently facing severe hunger and the threat of starvation. The report also warns of an impending famine in the northern part of Gaza, expected to occur between now and May.

Several US politicians have also voiced their opinions. A group of Democratic senators and a significant number of former US officials, diplomats, and military officers have expressed their belief that President Biden should contemplate reducing weapons supplies to Israel if it continues to impose limitations on humanitarian aid to Gaza.

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There was a powerful entity facing opposition, despite its significant impact.

‘Enhanced availability of humanitarian assistance is of utmost importance’
I’ve had the opportunity to witness the remarkable impact of US diplomacy firsthand this week, as I joined Mr. Blinken on a fast-paced journey across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East to tackle the ongoing crisis.

For those who closely analyze America’s actions, the contradiction is clear: the US is supplying weapons to a vital ally, while also urging them, though without success, to do more to alleviate the civilian hardships resulting from the military operations.

A recent assessment on food security in Gaza, supported by the UN, has shed light on the critical situation in the region. Based on the assessment, there is a significant number of people in the region who are currently experiencing severe hunger and are at risk of starvation. The report also highlights a concerning situation in the northern part of Gaza, where a potential famine is expected to occur between now and May.

Several US politicians have also shared their viewpoints. A group of Democratic senators and a significant number of former US officials, diplomats, and military officers have voiced their opinion that President Biden should consider the possibility of reducing weapons supplies to Israel if it persists in imposing restrictions on humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The US is pressing Israel to do much more to alleviate the civilian suffering in Gaza

A significant portion of Mr. Blinken’s journey involved handling urgent situations. Working towards providing assistance to Gaza, facilitating the release of hostages, and achieving a resolution to the conflict, with the aim of preventing any future attacks similar to Hamas’s assault on Israel on 7 October, as stated by the US.

Simultaneously, it is working towards shaping a future after the war. Washington supports the idea of the Palestinian Authority taking control of Gaza. It was established during the 1990s Oslo Accords and later forced out of Gaza by Hamas in 2007.

The Americans believe they can create a comprehensive agreement for the Middle East.

They are determined to achieve the long-desired goal of establishing an independent state for Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. This proposed solution, known as the two-state solution, envisions a demilitarized Palestinian state coexisting with a secure Israel.

Gaza, once rebuilt, would be under the governance of the internationally-supported Palestinian Authority. This authority has been strengthened with financial support and security forces trained by various Arab states, including Saudi Arabia.

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In addition, Riyadh would finally acknowledge Israel, a goal that the Israelis have been pursuing for a long time, which would help to further integrate it into the region.

As part of the agreement, the Saudis would receive state-of-the-art American weaponry, forge a security alliance with Washington, and establish a US-supported civilian nuclear power initiative.

It may seem incredibly ambitious, and maybe it is.

The Americans are well aware of the challenges they face in the Middle East, especially considering the ongoing violence in the region.

However, similar to his actions at the barricades, Mr. Blinken believes he can seize the opportunity during a time of crisis.

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