USA and Israel

Washington in the Middle East war

  Articoli (Articles)
  Matteo Gabutti
  28 March 2024
  11 minutes, 54 seconds

Translated by Irene Cecchi

I have had the privilege of returning [to Israel] many times, and to know every one of your prime ministers over these past three and a half decades, including your current leader who is a close, personal friend of over 33 years, Bibi Netanyahu.

Joe Biden, United States Vice President, 10 marzo 2010

I told him, Bibi, and don’t repeat this, but you and I are going to have a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting.

Joe Biden, United States President, 8 marzo 2024

During his long career, the current resident of the White House built a strong friendship with the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, another long-lasting character of the political scene in his country. This sincere relationship makes the difference between Biden and his predecessors who, from Clinton to Obama, always ended up having enough of the Israeli leader and the conservative party Likud.

Nevertheless, also the friendship with the 46th President of the United States is marked by tensions, started last summer when “Bibi” tried to bridle the Israeli judicial branch. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza, unleashed by Netanyahu in response to the Hamas attack on October 7th, seems to have led to a showdown, to a “‘come to Jesus’ meeting”.

Finally, the UNSC

On March 25th, finally the turning point: Washington withdrew his veto to the efforts of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to end all hostilities.

The Resolution 2728 (2024) –that received 14 yeses and the only abstention of the US– impose an immediate ceasefire throughout the Ramadan month aiming for a long-lasting solution. In addition, it demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and the guarantee of access for humanitarian aid. Lastly, the Resolution calls both parties for the respect of international law.

The professor Alessandra Annoni points out the fact that these requests are “separate and binding”, this is why the UNSC used the verb demand instead of a milder recommend. Furthermore, each request is not constrained to the others.

While the Council was welcoming with a thunderous applause the Resolution approval, in Tel Aviv some hostile reactions were triggered.

The Israeli ambassador at the United Nations defined the Resolution “a disgrace”. The Minister of National Security Ben-Gvir described the UNSC as an “antisemitic institution” and the American decision not to use the veto as proof that Biden “doesn’t prioritize the victory of Israel and of the free world against terrorism”. Netanyahu’s office called off an official visit of an Israeli delegation in Washington in order to discuss an attack on Rafah, action not approved by the American administration.

This is a rift that managed to ruin also the relation between the USA and Israel that President Kennedy in 1962 defined special”.

Plata y plomo

The Resolution was particularly loud since it arrived after a long time of impasse caused by the US’ endorsement to Israel that paralyzed the UNSC. For more than five months the ceasefire was a chimera despite the atrocities against the Gaza Strip population denounced as genocide by Francesca AlbaneseUnited Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories–.

Right after October 7th, Biden condemned Hamas’ attack defining it “an act of pure evil” and backed the “powerful vendetta” in Netanyahu’s plans. One week later in Tel Aviv, Joe was hugging his friend Bibi –an unambiguous sign of support– attenuated with the advice of not letting rage take over, as happened in the United States after September 11.

According to the Washington Post, since the outbreak of the conflict until the beginning of March, the US seems to have done more than a hundred foreign military sales to Israel, meaning “thousands of precision-guided munitions, small diameter bombs, bunker busters, small arms and other kinds of military equipment”. Only two sales were disclosed while all the others were not up to debate since their value was inferior to the threshold that requires Congress approval.

The same Congress left hanging a support package for Israel worth $14md, since the House of Representatives didn’t follow on the Senate approval in February. Nevertheless, Tel Aviv is still the main beneficiary in the world of the American Foreign Military Financing programme with $3.3md each year since 2019 (plus additional aid, for the missile defense, for example).

These expenses appear to be included in the 2024 budget law of 1.2 billion dollars, the one that was signed last minute on March 23th after a long parliamentary struggle between Democrats and Republicans. The latter also managed to extend for one year the suspension of UNRWA funds, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.


Nonetheless, the perception of the conflict in the United States is anything but positive.

According to a Gallup survey, the majority of Americans in March were against the Israeli military operation in Gaza (55%) with an increase of 10% compared to November. Even if the declining enthusiasm was more evident in the Democratic area, it interested the whole political spectrum.

A similar response was acknowledged by an AP-NORC study carried out in January when about half of the participants stated that the Israeli reaction had been over the top.

According to the Pew Research Center, in February the percentage of Americans who supported (36%) or opposed (34%) the delivery of military aid to Tel Aviv was quite balanced. Among the respondents, a slight majority thought that Biden was excessively backing Israel (22%) over the Palestinians (16%), an opinion mainly shared by younger people (36%), Democrats (34%) and muslims (60%).

The presidential elections due for November give additional importance to these surveys.

In the Democratic primary in Michigan, one of the States with more Arabs and muslims, the uncommitted votes –ballots left blank for protest– were more than a hundred thousand, 13.3% of the total. Even if involved just a minority, this left-wing opposition may erode Biden’s electorate and become crucial in Michigan, which is notably a swing State, meaning a State where none of the parties have a supremacy and often just a handful of votes determine the winner.

Anyways, another Gallup survey shows that the approval rate of President Biden’s work handling the Middle East issue is low.


The dramatic increase of civilian casualties in Gaza, inversely proportional to the popularity of Biden internally and of the USA in the world, stimulated a growing frustration in Washington.

Joe went from hugs in public to a disdainful and impatient tone referring to his friend Bibi in private.

Biden defined the attack on Rafah as the “red line” but then added that he would never leave Israel alone. Netanyahu replied that they will go on with the operation, careless of whatever red line he didn’t approve.

On top of spoken and unspoken and a reluctant ally, the tensions within the Democratic party are growing. The controversial speech of the jewish Senator Chuck Schumer on March 14th, invoking new elections in Israel and calling Netanyahu a peace-obstructor, is a clear symptom even if it wasn't perceived as a liberating outburst by the audience that remained hostile.

In this intricate political scene, the silence of a lacking veto becomes the strongest voice.

In the meantime, in Gaza, bombs are still falling.

Mondo Internazionale APS - Riproduzione Riservata ® 2024

Share the post


Matteo Gabutti


Matteo Gabutti è uno studente classe 2000 originario della provincia di Torino. Nel capoluogo piemontese ha frequentato il Liceo classico Massimo D'Azeglio, per poi conseguire anche il diploma di scuola superiore statunitense presso la prestigiosa Phillips Academy di Andover (Massachusetts). Dopo aver conseguito la laurea in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs presso l'Università di Bologna, al momento sta conseguendo il master in International Governance and Diplomacy offerto alla Paris School of International Affairs di SciencesPo. All'interno di Mondo Internazionale ricopre il ruolo di autore per l'area tematica Legge e Società, oltre a contribuire frequentemente alla stesura di articoli per il periodico geopolitico Kosmos.


Matteo Gabutti is a graduate student born in 2000 in the province of Turin. In the Piedmont capital he has attended Liceo Massimo D'Azeglio, a secondary school specializing in classical studies, after which he also graduated from Phillips Academy Andover (MA), one of the most prestigious preparatory schools in the U.S. After his bachelor's in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs at the University of Bologna, he is currently pursuing a master's in International Governance and Diplomacy at SciencesPo's Paris School of International Affairs. He works with Mondo Internazionale as an author for the thematic area of Law and Society, and he is a frequent contributor for the geopolitical journal Kosmos.


#UnitedStatesOfAmerica Israele Gaza Strip Biden Netanyahu guerra israele Medio Oriente UnitedNations Consiglio di Sicurezza Elezioni USA Armi #genocide