Analysis: There will be no pause in Biden’s headache over the Israel-Hamas war | CNN Politics

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A 48-hour extension to the Israel-Hamas talks will not end the strategic problems and political headaches that have plagued the Biden administration in the war.

Although the two additional days of hostage releases, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza vindicate a strong diplomatic effort in which the United States has been deeply involved, the situation is critical and the war is likely to resume.

– The most urgent question facing the White House: Where are the Americans? At least three American citizens were expected to be freed during the first four-day stay, but only an orphaned 4-year-old American-Israeli girl was. Abigail drink They withdrew from Gaza, much to the chagrin of US officials.

— and while Israel is signaling its openness to another extension, it is warning that its eventual offensive against Hamas will be stronger than before the deal. That could result in more civilian casualties, including the bombing of civilian areas and sieges on Gaza hospitals, as in the war. Any domestic political relief that Bin finds as he stands amid deep divisions within the Democratic Party ahead of next year’s election may not last long after the airstrikes resume.

– Signs are mounting that Biden’s push for more than $14 billion in aid to Israel is running into deep skepticism on Capitol Hill. The package is held up by a massive Ukraine aid package and controversies over US southern border security in a way that shows how intransigent domestic politics are now undermining Washington’s ability to act abroad.

— While the administration’s stern warning to the opposition has helped curb the conflict, the threat of a regional escalation has not yet subsided. Two ballistic missiles from Houthi-controlled Yemen were fired at a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Aden, U.S. officials said Sunday, underscoring the threat to U.S. personnel.

U.S. officials watched with particular caution when Hamas released 11 other hostages on Monday — the first deadline for a truce deal. Two American women who were kidnapped in a terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7 had hoped to be released. But they failed to show up, leaving officials to hope they would be part of an extended run by Hamas over the next two days.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday, “It’s difficult to confirm how they go about developing these lists.” Hopefully in the next couple of days, in the next couple of episodes, we’ll see some Americans come out.

Judah Bein — whose daughter Liat Bein, 49, is one of two American women with Israeli citizenship — said the family was very worried for her and her husband, Aviv Azili. “We have no choice but to wait,” he told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Among the most pressing problems for the administration is that it is not yet known how many Americans are being held in Gaza, and whether all those suspected by Washington are still alive. “We think the number is less than 10,” Kirby told reporters at a White House briefing. But we don’t have hard and solid data on each of them.

Another complication is that 40 hostages are believed to be held not by Hamas but by other Palestinian militant groups, including Islamic Jihad, although it is not known for certain whether Americans are among them.

A senior administration official said Monday that the White House does not believe Hamas intentionally held two American women it hoped would free them, following a four-day truce in which Hamas released 50 hostages.

The prisoners released so far have concentrated on women and children, and there is little hope that the young male hostages will be released soon, experts said, adding that they are considered more valuable human capital by Hamas leaders as they seek to raise the price of hostage releases. . The ratio currently stands at three Palestinians who were freed from Israeli prison in exchange for one hostage from the October 7 attack. Israel did not divorce any male over the age of 18. The possibility that the war could resume if the truce talks are not extended indefinitely is raising serious doubts about the fate of all the male hostages. Stress is especially high for the captured members of the Israeli armed forces.

Rachel Goldberg’s 23-year-old son Hersh was seriously wounded and taken hostage by Hamas in the attack on the Nova Music Festival. Jake Tapper told CNN on Monday that he could not provide any information on the whereabouts or condition of any of the freed hostages. “We are very, very worried. “We feel like the clock is ticking, the clock is ticking,” Goldberg said. This is a very wounded young, American civilian here, and we are just as concerned as any parent.

Security experts believe Hamas may understand the potential benefits of holding American hostages. This will increase US pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, giving Hamas fighters time to regroup after the relentless Israeli offensive and mount a continuing operation.

The return of lawmakers to Washington this week following the Thanksgiving break could turn up the heat on Biden, especially from Republicans who are always looking to portray him as weak. GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said on Fox Sunday that “Hamas apparently has such contempt for President Biden and American power that they feel it is necessary to release the Filipino and Thai hostages before they release the American hostages.”

While the release of hostages guaranteed by the initial deal and aid shipments to Gaza have provided a welcome humanitarian relief to the Palestinians, no one believes the truce will last. American efforts to extend the pause are increasing. Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken will return to the region this week following a trip to Dubai, the West Bank and Israel, officials announced Monday.

If fighting resumes, they are Israeli moves. It targets areas in southern Hamas strongholds and overcrowded refugee camps, resulting in high civilian casualties and consequent international backlash against Israel. Biden has already felt the political downsides of such operations – from America’s allies internationally and from key young, progressive and Muslim American voters at home, it should be seen in large numbers in next year’s election, and in fact, he says. Washington Post report, among his own employees. So it is likely that he will face similar or even more severe political headaches when the war resumes.

Biden has distanced himself from many US and foreign leaders and officials he considers political friends on this issue. That raises the question of whether Netanyahu will hold back on calling for a permanent cease-fire — a move that would undermine Israel’s efforts to crush Hamas.

Presidents don’t get credit for stopping disasters that don’t happen. But the Biden administration can claim important success so far in ensuring the conflict doesn’t turn into a full-scale regional war following dire warnings to traditional opponents and displays of military force — including sending two aircraft carrier groups into waters near Israel.

But even if U.S. adversaries such as Iran are unlikely to wade into the conflict, and if escalation can be avoided for now, the administration must remain vigilant.

In the Gulf of Aden, the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason dropped two ballistic missiles 10 nautical miles away to help a tanker under attack from Somali pirates, US officials said. . The missiles were fired from areas previously controlled by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, an Iranian-backed Shiite group. After the October 7 Hamas attack, the Houthis launched several attacks on US interests in the region and Israel. The USS Mason did not attempt to shoot down the missiles, and the Pentagon did not say whether the ship was specifically targeted.

Mark Esper, who served as the defense secretary in the Trump administration, warned against taking the incident as an opportunity. “I don’t think the administration’s response to attacks by Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere has been adequate,” Esper told CNN.

He added: “I know they’re worried – they’re afraid if they do too much it will get worse. My argument is the opposite. If you don’t do enough, the attacks will continue[and]at some point Americans will be killed and that’s when it will get worse.

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