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Feb 20, 2024, 7:17am EST
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Israel isolated by international community as assault on Rafah nears

Insights from Al-Monitor, NBC News, and Foreign Policy

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Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, sit outside a tent at the border with Egypt, amid fears of an Israeli ground assault in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip February 18, 2024. REUTERS/Saleh Salem
REUTERS/Saleh Salem
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Israel is facing growing international pressure over its war against Hamas, with key allies calling for an end to its onslaught in Gaza amid a massive humanitarian crisis.

The U.S., which has traditionally supported Israel — including using its veto power to block previous ceasefire efforts by the United Nations Security Council — has put forward a draft resolution at the UNSC calling for a temporary ceasefire.

In Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva recalled his ambassador to Israel and compared Israel’s military campaign in Gaza to the Holocaust, a statement Israeli officials decried as antisemitic. Meanwhile 26 European Union member states warned Israel against an attack on Rafah, a crowded Gazan city on the border with Egypt where 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have taken shelter.

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Netanyahu’s political goals make truce deal untenable

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Sources:  
Al-Monitor, NBC News

There is nearly “unbearable” pressure on Netanyahu to avoid an assault in Rafah, wrote Al-Monitor’s Andrew Parasiliti. The Israeli prime minister has resisted any calls for a ceasefire, even if temporary, and derided Hamas’ conditions for a truce as “delusional.” U.S. President Joe Biden is reported to have privately criticized Netanyahu, but hasn’t gone as far as withdrawing American financial support for the war. Ultimately, Parasiliti argued, Netanyahu’s aversion to a ceasefire or independent Palestinian state comes down to domestic politics: “For Netanyahu, it all begins and ends with holding together his far-right coalition in order to stay in power. Any talk of a Palestinian state is therefore a nonstarter and could bring down his government.”

US has some leeway to push Israel to agree to ceasefire

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Source:  
Foreign Policy

Pushing allies into decisions is a difficult diplomatic task, “especially when it comes to pushing policies that restrict a partner’s approach to national defense,” Barbara Elias, associate professor of government and legal studies at Bowdoin College, wrote in Foreign Policy. To persuade allies to agree to terms, the U.S. has often made further aid conditional on adherence to policy reforms or international laws. Washington is straddling a tricky line, Elias noted, between trying to protect its own interests — in this case, a secure ally — with the need for an agreement that could end the war. “Washington will need to be agile and purposeful in its diplomatic approaches as the U.S. seeks to both support and influence Israel,” Elias said. “The U.S. can and should do more.”

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