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Israel Op-Ed

Why is Netanyahu turning up the volume against Biden?

Let’s do the math.

To win the presidential election in the United States a candidate needs 270 votes in the Electoral College. The Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, has a promising lead of 235 votes.

  • In his last campaign against Biden in 2020, Trump lost by a small margin in Georgia, (16 electoral votes) and Arizona (11 electoral votes), both considered then to be blue, or Democratic-leaning, states.
  • But since then there has been a turnaround in both states. Today, after Georgia’s liberal stance on COVID-19, it has seen an influx of Republican voters and in Arizona, located on the border with Mexico, immigration is one of the main issues on voters’ minds.

Polling, therefore, now shows Trump leading in both states. That puts his electors count at 262. And to stay in office for a second term, Biden must win the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump needs just one of them to return to the White House. Meanwhile, Nevada with its six electoral votes, is a true swing state and a key battleground state.

  • Even a thousand repetitions of the story of his heart-to-heart conversation with then-Prime Minister Golda Meir will not change the simple, decisive fact that Biden cannot win without Michigan, home to a large Palestinian American community that is made up of Hamas sympathizers.

For them, stopping the war in Gaza is the number one consideration, and seems to be an imperative if he hopes to win the state.
On the other hand, American centrist voters mostly support Israel and, according to a recent Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, also support an Israeli offensive on Rafah. For most of them, this is not their number one issue in the elections. It is down in 10th place.

For most but not all. Some evangelists, although not many, have reservations about Trump but may decide to vote for him if they see Biden restricting Israel’s actions in the war.

In short, Biden’s dilemma is how to appease the Muslim pro-Palestinian voters without angering the Christian supporters of Israel.

The White House has been briefing reporters in recent days with the aim of separating his support for Israel from his dislike of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It is also possible to say this less elegantly. Biden wants to keep the confrontation with Israel below the threshold of war: enough public blows to mobilize the base, but not an all-out confrontation that will seriously damage him in the eyes of the general American public.
The conduct around Rafah is an excellent example.

The administration will place obstacles, ask questions, demand explanations about an Israeli offensive in Rafah, but Israeli officials vow that when the time comes, despite all of those efforts, an offensive in the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip will begin.

  • An Israeli senior official said: “At the moment of truth, in spite of them and their wrath, we will act swiftly.”

Those who analyze the situation with diplomatic glasses only, or worse, psychological ones, are ridiculous. Those who claim that Netanyahu insulted Biden or that this has to do with his “conduct” are not addressing the issue, as if anyone in an election year even bothers to be interested in table manners.

As the Wall Street Journal put it this week, Biden wants a two-state solution: Michigan and Nevada.

Source: Amit Segal – Ynet News