US ignores Palestinians in commemorating Gaza war's 100-day mark as frustration with Netanyahu builds

US ignores Palestinians in commemorating Gaza war's 100-day mark as frustration with Netanyahu builds
Although US public messaging in the war on Gaza has largely been in support of Israel, reports describe increasing frustration from Biden over Israel's war.
4 min read
15 January, 2024
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly labelling Israel's post-war plans in Gaza as "pie in the sky" [Photo by Kobi Gideon (GPO) / Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images]

The Biden administration has been accused of ignoring Palestinian suffering in its messaging commemorating the 100-day mark of the war in Gaza.

A statement from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken drew criticism from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for failing to mention that 24,100 Palestinians, mostly women and children, were killed over 100 days by Israel's war on Gaza.

Blinken posted a commemoration on X focusing on the remaining Israeli captives who were being held in Gaza, saying "100 days of captivity in Gaza is far too long. The United States will not rest until all remaining hostages, including six Americans, are reunited with their loved ones".

The PA's mission to the UN responded saying: "Shame on those who remain complicit and do not call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza."

Blinken's post follows public messaging from the White House, whose statement commemorating the 100-day mark also make no mention of Palestinian suffering in Gaza.

The statement, which focused on the hostages and US pledges to make sure they returned home, cited Biden as saying for the past 100 days "the hostages and the families have been at the forefront of my mind".

The US has consistently defended Israel publicly, and has described South Africa's ICJ case against Israel over accusations it has breached the genocide convention as "meritless". 

However, the statements from the Biden administration came as reports claimed it was increasingly frustrated with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel's conduct in the war which has seen homes, hospitals, and ambulances hit.

According to an Axios report, Netanyahu has irked the US for resisting several requests it's made to influence Israel's conduct in Gaza.

This includes Israel's dispute with the PA, with Netanyahu refusing to relinquish withheld taxes collected on behalf of the PA over pressure from far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has refused to allow any of the funds to be sent to Gaza. The PA also refused the funds unless they arrived in full.

Netanyahu dismissed calls for discussing plans for post-war Gaza and also rejected a US-backed plan for a reformed PA to govern the enclave.

There have been tensions within the Israeli government over the war strategy with Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and military officials warning that a confrontational attitude with the PA could lead to further unrest in the occupied West Bank.

The US also believes Israel was not doing enough to allow the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, which the UN has repeatedly warned was on the brink of famine. Washington is also reportedly concerned that Israel will not transition to low-intensity military operations by the end of January meaning the death toll in Gaza is likely to rise further.

These points of contention between the two administrations have led one US official to tell Axios that "the situation sucks and we are stuck. The president's patience is running out".

Democrat Senator Chirs Van Hollen substantiated these frustrations, telling Axios that "at every juncture, Netanyahu has given Biden the finger", adding that the administration is "pleading with the Netanyahu coalition, but getting slapped in the face over and over again".

He also said that it appeared that Netanyahu preferred to listen to far-right cabinet members such as Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich than to Biden.

While publicly the US still strongly supports Israel, Axios said that Blinken told the Israelis that their post-war plan for Gaza was "pie in the sky".

He also bluntly said that unless the PA had a role in Gaza "no Arab country is going to bail them out", in reference to post-war reconstruction efforts for the enclave.

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The meeting also saw Blinken attempt to sway the cabinet with the offer of normalisation with Saudi Arabia, which he said could still happen if Israel was committed to a two-state solution, a prospect US officials described to Axios as "far-fetched".

Those latest talks followed visits to several Arab states including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar before visiting Israel.

The report also noted that Blinken had met with Netanyahu's political rivals Benny Gantz and Yoav Gallant, who although in the war cabinet, have also had fissures with Netanyahu in the past.

Blinken also met with opposition leader Yair Lapid in a bid to ensure other political channels were open with Israel in the long term.