Testing US diplomacy

fahed Khitan
Fahed Khitan (Photo: Jordan News)
In the beginning, the common belief among regional and international powers was that the military escalation in Gaza, on the backdrop of Israeli violations in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and Jerusalem in general, was that this is a usual clash between Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza and the Israeli occupation forces that would fade within hours. اضافة اعلان

But as days went by, the world’s decision-making circles realized that they were dealing with a snowballing crisis growing into an all-out war in Palestine and that none could stop it.

Palestinian resistance’s rocket attacks were different and more impactful than usual this time. In addition, the violent Israeli reaction gave the impression that the parties to the conflict are moving beyond what is happening now into a more serious mode; a matter that necessitates an urgent diplomatic effort to contain the situation.

Apparently, US President Joe Biden’s administration was caught off guard by the escalation, at a time when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict file was not on the agenda for the time being, pending a closure of the Iranian file through negotiations.

Such confusion has characterized Washington’s behavior and action. While the administration started with an encouraging tone for Palestinians, supporting the two-state solution and Palestinians’ legitimate rights to a state where they live in dignity and freedom, the US has found itself recently obliged to adopt the traditional approach of supporting Israel. This was manifested in Biden’s remarks endorsing Israel’s “right to defend itself”, amid a row over the issue between left-leaning Democrats in Congress and leading figures at Capitol Hill that adhere to US’ historic approach to Israel.

Western countries and other influential players have had their diplomatic moves, but they were simultaneously looking to Washington and relying on its influence to make a difference.

In reality, this was the first serious test of the Democratic administration’s ability to change the course of the conflict through a vision different from that of the previous administration, which was completely biased to the occupation government, with its aggressive behavior and denial of the Palestinian rights.

It has been a week since the Israeli aggression on Gaza started, traded for rocket barrages that have reached Israeli towns. Diplomatic efforts have managed to defer the eviction of families in Sheikh Jarrah. In the face of settler provocations in Jerusalem, the escalation in Gaza, and the broad Palestinian grassroots protests in the West Bank and across Palestinian communities in Israel, international efforts will be undermined unless Washington begins pressuring the Israelis to accept a cessation of hostilities on reasonable terms.

A continuation of the current crisis without tangible progress also threatens a deterioration of the situation on other fronts. Observers are watching the northern borders of Palestine, which are witnessing some uncontrollable developments that might trigger a dangerous showdown between Israel and Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon and Syria.

Thus we are on the brink of an all-out war that will spare no country in the region, especially given that sentiments are high and public anger is mounting — so much so that Jordanian and Lebanese youth crossed the border to carry out attacks on the Israeli occupation forces.

Can the situation be contained before it spirals out of control? This is the test of US diplomacy that surfaced all of a sudden.

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