Biden right to pause armaments to Israel

The ball is now in Netanyahu's court on how to respond



May 9, 2024 - 2:48 PM

A boy - what, maybe 8 years old? - walks past an impact crater at the site of a building that was hit by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, May 8, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Also on Wednesday, President Joe Biden halted a delivery of 3,500 bombs headed to Israel, as a sign he disagrees with Israel's indiscriminate bombings that is killing tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians. (AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Maybe Israel will now get the message that the United States is not its golden goose.

We say that with tongue in cheek.

Even so, we’re heartened to learn President Joe Biden has stalled delivery of 3,500 bombs to Israel in response to its indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians in the war against Hamas insurgents. What seemed to make a difference this time is Israel’s advancements in Southern Gaza where more than 1 million Palestinians have taken refuge. 

Biden has certainly tried everything else to dissuade Israel from the incursion — phone calls, emissaries, joint commission meetings — only to be ignored by his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden was left with little choice, personally as well as in regard to his standing with the Democratic Party, not to mention world opinion.

The ball now is in Netanyahu’s court as to how to respond.

Should Israel be worried?

Yes and no.

Biden’s decision should certainly blow a hole in what Israel has perceived as a blanket assurance that it could act without exception.

“I’ve made it clear to Bibi (Netanyahu) and the war cabinet, they’re not going to get our support if in fact they go into these population centers,” the president said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday evening. 

Biden admitted U.S. support has been complicit in the harm to innocents. “Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs.” 

That said, the United States has no intention of leaving Israel adrift.

“We’re not walking away from Israel’s security; we’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas,” the President explained.

Can’t get any clearer than that.

Biden’s decision has less to do with Israel’s ability to defend itself than with his refusal to support Netanyahu and his war cabinet’s decision to jeopardize the lives of tens of thousands of innocents in their effort to root out Hamas.

Israel is not lacking in weaponry. Congress currently sends Israel $3.8 billion a year in military aid, not counting the $15 billion in additional help approved last month. Since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, the United States has sent Israel tens of thousands of bombs and missiles. 

By any definition or measure, the U.S. is Israel’s biggest ally. 

Whether that dynamic changes is largely up to Israel.

— Susan Lynn