Harris' rebuke of Israel lays bare 'embarrassment of Biden admin'
Political infighting risks paralyzing intl affairs: observer
Published: Mar 05, 2024 12:48 AM

The Nasser Hospital is seen in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, Feb. 28, 2024. Nasser Hospital, the second-largest hospital in Gaza Strip, stopped operating after an Israeli military operation on Feb. 15.(Photo: Xinhua)

The Nasser Hospital is seen in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, Feb. 28, 2024. Nasser Hospital, the second-largest hospital in Gaza Strip, stopped operating after an Israeli military operation on Feb. 15.(Photo: Xinhua)

In what appears to be "the strongest rebuke" of its close ally made yet by a senior leader in the US government, Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday bluntly called out Israel for the "inhuman" conditions it has caused that made Gaza a "humanitarian catastrophe," according to media reports.

Harris urged an "immediate cease-fire" in Gaza for at least the next six weeks, a deal that White House officials said Israel is close to accepting. "The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses," the US' No.2 political figure said.

However, according to a local newspaper, Israel boycotted Gaza cease-fire talks in Cairo on Sunday, citing reasons from Hamas over a list of hostages.

On the same day, Israeli strike on an aid distribution truck carrying food to displaced Gaza residents killed at least nine people and wounded many others, Al Jazeera reported.

"The latest episode has shown just how embarrassing the situation is now for the Biden administration, which gives people the impression that American policy-makers are having 'mental disorders'…if they keep sticking up for Israel despite global outrage, it will further tarnishing the image of the US, and more importantly, losing the Arab-American voters in key swing states as Biden seeks re-election," Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Monday. 

While Harris' call is seen as a desperate attempt to try and "stop the bleeding" from yet another major misstep in the incumbent's foreign policy, Biden has found it hard to rein in Israel, Li said. "The world is watching the power play between these two strange bedfellows."

Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, added that the internal spat over Gaza issue indicates that the US is struggling with resource allocation because they do not have enough to support the simultaneous mobilization of several pawns, including Israel in the Middle East, Ukraine against Russia and China's Taiwan. 

The insufficiency has led to voices within the Democrats to drop the current Israel policy, while giving the Republicans a weapon to attack Biden for being weak, Lü noted. 

Harris' comments came just two days ahead of "Super Tuesday," which is considered one of the most important dates on the US political calendar when the largest number of states will hold their presidential primaries and caucuses.

During the Democratic primary in Michigan last week, more than 100,000 voters cast a vote for "uncommitted" in a ground-breaking move to denounce Biden's "unwavering" support for Israel.

Although this "Super Tuesday" seems exceptionally insignificant as the presidential candidates of both parties have already become evident, this round of elections will serve as a crucial indicator for the official showdown between the two at the end of the year, experts said. 

Judging by a new poll by The New York Times and Siena College, Biden trails behind former US president Donald Trump by five percent in the national survey of registered voters.

"Biden's campaign does not look promising. It is sad that Biden's foreign policy, which had been regarded an advantage of his over Trump, has now become his biggest liability. Starting from the Afghan troop withdrawal, to the Ukraine crisis and now the Gaza crisis, each decision he made resulted in a decline of his approval ratings," Lü said. 

In contrast, Trump is taking the lead in almost every topic of the election race, experts noted. Furthermore, despite being embroiled in legal battles, Trump is using this to promote conspiracy theories by portraying himself as a "victim" and rallying support among grassroots Republican voters, thus weakening challengers within the party, while gaining sympathy votes from outside the party.

No matter who wins the final race, Li said, the US' foreign policy is always a result of political infighting, featuring a high degree of instability in handling global affairs. The toxic environment of opposition and confrontation in its domestic politics will risk paralyzing the whole international affairs in which the US interferes, the expert warned.