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Israel-Hamas War: Live Updates – The New York Times

Israelis expressed growing concern on Sunday that President Biden’s shaky debate performance could spur on the country’s Middle Eastern foes at what many view as a critical time for American leadership in the region.

Israeli commentators from across the political spectrum warned that Iran and its proxies could try to exploit Mr. Biden’s apparent weakness as Israel fights Hamas in Gaza and weighs the prospect of an all-out conflict with the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

U.S. officials have been working to broker a diplomatic solution to the tensions between Israel and Hezbollah in an attempt to avert a wider regional war that they fear could draw in both Iran and the United States. The Biden administration is also involved in intense efforts with other mediators to try to advance a truce deal for Gaza that would involve exchanging the remaining hostages there for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

President Biden departing for Red Bank, N.J., for a campaign reception on Saturday.Credit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has publicly pressured the Biden administration to speed up munitions supplies ahead of any conflagration with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Several of Israel’s Sunday newspapers featured the debate on their front pages in a kind of delayed reaction: The debate took place before dawn on Friday local time, after the weekend papers had gone to press. And Hebrew dailies are not published on Saturday, the Sabbath.

Analysts for Israel Hayom, a right-wing free paper, and the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper differed sharply in tone but both raised the specter of enemies of Israel and the United States testing the administration’s resolve.

“Will Hezbollah and Iran assess that Biden is too busy now to back Israel in case all-out war breaks out in Lebanon this summer?” Amos Harel, Haaretz’s military affairs analyst, wrote on Sunday.

While some on the Israeli right have mocked Mr. Biden’s debate performance, hoping for a Trump victory, Mr. Harel continued, that was a display of ungratefulness after the U.S. president stood by Israel and supplied it with large quantities of weapons. “Moreover,” he added, “Trump is a feeble reed to rely on.”

During the presidential debate on Thursday, Mr. Trump accused Mr. Biden of not wanting Israel to “finish the job” in Gaza — calling him weak and raising eyebrows by using the word “Palestinian” as an insult. Mr. Biden offered little in the way of a response.

Mr. Biden has been a staunch supporter of Israel throughout the war, although he has also been critical, frequently calling on Israel to limit civilian casualties and to work to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave.

He has a long history with Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Biden flew to Israel in a powerful show of solidarity last fall, soon after the Hamas-led terrorist assault on southern Israel that prompted the war in Gaza. He has since paid a political price for his support, which has infuriated American opponents of the war who want the U.S. government to stop providing Israel with munitions.

But the visions of Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu have diverged in recent months. The U.S. government held up one shipment to Israel of heavy bombs, fearing that they would be used in densely populated areas. And Mr. Biden has dismissed Mr. Netanyahu’s oft-stated goal of “total victory” over Hamas as a vague objective that would mean indefinite war.

Mr. Trump was strongly supportive of Israel as president and largely went along with the agenda of Mr. Netanyahu and his right-wing allies. During his term, Mr. Trump moved the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, fulfilling a longstanding Israeli demand.

But the former president appears to have soured on Mr. Netanyahu. He has said the Hamas-led assault was a result of Mr. Netanyahu’s lack of preparation and praised Hezbollah as “very smart.” In an interview with Israel Hayom in March, Mr. Trump advised Israel to wrap up the war in Gaza, because it was losing much of the world’s support.

“You gotta get it done,” he told the paper, “and we gotta get to peace — we can’t have this going on.”

Israel Hayom’s publisher is Dr. Miriam Adelson, the widow of Sheldon Adelson, and a staunchly pro-Israel megadonor who is now backing Donald Trump’s third White House bid.

Amnon Lord, a columnist for Israel Hayom, asserted on Sunday that Mr. Biden’s performance in the debate proved persistent claims that “an extreme progressive group” of aides was driving U.S. foreign policy.

“In a world rife with aggressive forces,” he wrote, “the unflattering image of an American president — the leader of the free world — appearing weak and incoherent encourages them to exploit opportunities.”

“Biden’s decline mirrors the collapse of his Middle East policy vis-à-vis Iran and its proxies,” Mr. Lord added.

Mr. Lord trod carefully around Mr. Trump’s performance in the debate, saying only that he, too, “didn’t gain supporters.”

Yediot Ahronot, a mainstream Hebrew daily, flagged a column on its front page describing Mr. Biden’s performance as a “catastrophe.” The columnist, Nadav Eyal, wrote that faced with the prospect of another Trump presidency, the Democrats and their allies carried the fate of the free world on their shoulders.

“Weakness is not a characteristic that an American president can broadcast, by any stretch,” he wrote.

Gabby Sobelman and Myra Noveck contributed reporting.

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Nathan
Nathan

Nathan is an experienced journalist. He's covered a broad spectrum of topics, including politics, culture, and human interest stories, always aiming to engage and inform his audience. Nathan has a degree in Journalism and upholds the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in his work.

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