On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Biden 2024 Campaign Co-Chair Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) argued that President Joe Biden needs to be tougher with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and push him towards “a counterterrorism strategy, rather than a massive ground campaign lasting many more months.” Coons also stated that “if Hamas were to lay down arms tomorrow, if Hamas would release the hostages, the fighting would stop the next day.” But the humanitarian toll of Israel’s ground campaign is too high.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius asked, “Senator, do you think it’s time for President Biden, your friend, to be tougher with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, not simply for the sake of the United States’ interests, but for Israel’s interests as well? What do you think?”
Coons answered, “Yes. David, as you well know, as the viewers know, the cost in human life in Gaza, the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza is horrific and the humanitarian circumstances there are unacceptably hard. But we also need to remind folks that if Hamas were to lay down arms tomorrow, if Hamas would release the hostages, the fighting would stop the next day. It is important to remind people that what began all of this was a horrific terrorist attack by Hamas on innocent civilians in Israel. But two months into this intensive ground campaign, the captive population of Gaza is suffering at unacceptably high levels.”
He continued, “So, when I was in Israel last, part of a bipartisan group of senators there to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the war cabinet and other leaders and to meet with hostage families, a point I made to the Prime Minister was that he had a choice between going into Gaza, Israel only, for months and months and months and doing roughly what we did in Fallujah or in Mosul and carrying out a very tough, very expensive, very costly campaign on the ground with no clear end in sight and risk increasing the number of extremists and losing support globally over the human suffering or to engage in a brief, intense campaign to knock down Hamas, and then step back and renew their negotiations with the Saudi kingdom and others in the region to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and launch a region-wide, longer-term campaign against Hamas with the active support and partnership of Egypt and the Saudis and the Jordanians, a campaign more likely to succeed in the long run and bring peace to the region. I recognize that’s not something Prime Minister Netanyahu is likely to accept, but our President has been pressing and pressing for more humanitarian relief, with some recent success in getting Kerem Shalom opened for the release of hostages, with some success a few weeks ago when there was a pause, and for a reduction in settler violence in the West Bank. But it is time for us to be clearer and more forceful with our Israeli partners about the need to change to a counterterrorism strategy, rather than a massive ground campaign lasting many more months.”
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