By Michelle Funes
As the conflict between Palestine and Israel worsened this past week, Biden has set his primary focus on the de-escalation of the ongoing tension between the two states.
While Biden’s main actions since taking the presidency have been on domestic issues of COVID-19, he has been pressured to act on the latest airstrikes fired by both Israel and Palestine. His goal is to focus on preventing the current actions from turning into a full-blown war.
White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki called for de-escalation and shared that the president believed that Israel had the right to defend itself. Psaki stated that Biden had been in 25 important meetings with his administration and other international officials about this conflict.
“My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later… Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory,” expressed Biden for the first time since the conflict had begun.
With America having close ties to Israel, Biden is pressured to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to postpone the eviction of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem. Although there is no definite solution or plan to solve the conflict, Biden plans to focus on preventing any more casualties on either side.
The distinction between Hamas, the terrorist organization that is firing missiles at Palestine, and Israel, which has been defending itself, is important because most of the ongoing conflict is rooted in their extremist ideals. The White House is called to pressure Israel in stopping this organization from doing any more damage.
In comparison with past presidencies, Biden has not focused on this conflict between both countries. He has set his foreign policy focus on China instead of the Middle East. Former President Donald Trump was vocal in his companionship with Israel. He favored their expansionist settlement policies and pushed the Pro-Israel peace treaty that was rejected by Palestine.
Obama’s presidency was also very involved with this conflict as former President Barack Obama assigned an envoy, George Mitchell, almost immediately after he was signed into the presidency to attend to this tension. In contrast, President Biden has yet to assign an ambassador for Israel and amidst everything going on is looking for someone to fill that position.
As the news of the airstrikes and casualties have surfaced, many Americans have taken to the streets to express their concerns about the conflict. Protesters in Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. and many other cities have expressed their support for Palestine or Israel.
In the New York protest, a fight broke out in front of the Israeli consulate. Although there were no injuries, it revealed how passionate the staunch advocates are. Sophie Sasson, a pro-Israeli protester spoke with WCBS-TV saying, “My mother lives on the edge of Gaza. She’s in a shelter as we speak … This is war. I will not sit and watch the only democracy in the Middle East be ripped apart.”
In the Washington D.C. protest, U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and André Carson joined the group outside the State Department. Democrat Representative Carson later tweeted, “Today, I was honored to join [Representative Rashida Tlaib] and a diverse crowd of people at the State Department to demand justice for Palestinians. Americans of all backgrounds have a moral obligation to protect human rights wherever they are threatened — in #SheikhJarrah, and around the world!”
As tensions continue to grow Biden has less time to properly work with both Israel and Palestine before this conflict grows into a war. The events that take place in the next week will determine whether peace is on the horizon.
Michelle Funes is a second year at UC Davis. She is currently an English major and hopes to double major with Communications. She is from Southern California, more specifically Covina.