US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Chavis Community Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, March 26, 2024.

Biden Criticized As Hamas Declares Israel's ‘Isolation’ in Tehran

Wednesday, 03/27/2024

US President Joe Biden faced criticism on Tuesday as the Hamas chief visited Tehran and praised Israel’s “political isolation” – just a day after the UN Security Council voted for a ceasefire Israel opposed.

The Biden administration abstained from using its veto power Monday as members of the UN’s most powerful body voted to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The decision enraged the Israeli government and its supporters in Washington, who felt their government had “betrayed” Israel and sided with Hamas.

That sentiment only intensified when the Hamas leader traveled to Iran in what some critics of Joe Biden called a victory lap. The red carpet was ceremoniously laid out to welcome him, a carefully choreographed spectacle aimed at unnerving adversaries and, crucially, to bolster the Islamic Republic's image as the unwavering defender of the Palestinian cause.

“Iran stands at the forefront of supporting the cause and people of Palestine,” Haniyeh said. “I extend special thanks to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the President of Iran, and the people of Iran.”

Critics of the Biden administration, predominantly from the Republican side, interpret this as the epitome of a failing foreign policy, particularly concerning the Middle East and the regime in Tehran.

“Biden's confused, contradictory policies regarding Israel's struggle against Hamas and Iran are dangerous,” former US national security advisor John Bolton wrote in the Hill. “America should flatly reject the concept of Hamas having a "terrorist veto" over Israel's right to self-defense. If we don't, Israel and our anti-terrorism efforts globally will be significantly weakened.”

The war in Gaza, and the US response to it, has become yet another wedge, widening and deepening the partisan divide in American politics. The unbridgeable rift places President Biden in an exceedingly challenging position, where any decision he makes is susceptible to criticism from both sides simultaneously.

“Today the Biden Admin betrayed Israel and sided w/ Iran-backed Hamas terrorists who continue to hold US hostages,” Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) commented on X. “The Admin is so desperate to appease the pro-Hamas left that it is willing to advocate against the interests of our ally & our own citizens still held hostage.”

This, naturally, is not how Democrats, particularly those labeled by Hagerty as the “pro-Hamas left,” perceive the situation or the President's role. In their eyes, Biden has not gone far enough in confronting the Israeli government and halting what nearly every international and aid organization has termed a humanitarian crisis.

“To pretend that Israel is not violating international law or interfering with US humanitarian aid is absurd on its face,” Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) said Tuesday after a spokesperson for the Department of State told reporters that there were no reasons to dispute Israeli assurances that it was complying with humanitarian law in Gaza.

“The state department’s position makes a mockery of US law and assurances provided to Congress,” Sanders continued.

Jeremy Konyndyk, a former senior Biden official who now heads Refugees International, also accused Washington of not doing enough to pressure Israel.

“You can't fight famine by half-measures, and that seems to be all the Biden administration can muster right now,” Konyndyk posted on X. “Until Biden is ready to impose real policy consequences on Netanyahu's government, the famine will continue.”

Given the fervor and intensity of stances on both sides of the aisle, make it difficult to anticipate the Biden administration's course of action in the days and weeks ahead.

The potential invasion of Rafah by Israeli forces threatens to escalate the already strained relationship between the US and Israel to its breaking point. US Vice President Kamala Harris recently called it a “huge mistake” that could have “consequences” for Israel. 

These developments are viewed from Tehran with triumph and glee. The Iranian regime has no doubt increased its influence since the October 7th attack on Israel. Israel’s image, meanwhile, has been seriously challenged, if not tarnished. Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its armed proxy groups across the region have grown in cohesion and confidence.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now likely wields greater leverage in managing relations with the US and regional adversaries, particularly concerning its domestic matters such as freedom and human rights – often considered secondary to regional security by global powers.

This new-found position has come at high price, albeit not for the Iranian regime.

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