June 06, 2024

How Biden is putting the heat on Netanyahu


Journalist: Nahal Toosi

There’s a fear among many U.S. officials and others caught in the crisis that this could be the last best shot to bring home hostages held by Hamas and wind down the war without significantly more casualties. In many ways, the Biden team is going beyond its past efforts to persuade Netanyahu to act on U.S. advice, turning to more people and institutions than usual so that the Israeli prime minister feels the heat no matter where he turns.

“It feels a bit like a blunt-force instrument,” said Jonathan Lord, a former Defense Department official.

Of course, the pressure campaign also targets Hamas, but Netanyahu is in some ways the more complicated decisionmaker, and the one that the U.S. has more power to directly influence.


And some former U.S. officials argue that Hamas militant boss Yahya Sinwar may prove a tougher target to convince than Netanyahu. The militant, who may be in hiding in Gaza, has seen the turmoil the war has caused within American politics, including on U.S. college campuses, as well as how it has made Israel the subject of much international opprobrium.

“Sinwar believes he’s winning. He believes he has the upper hand in public sentiment,” said Lord, who is now with the Center for a New American Security. Lord warned, “If Sinwar believes Netanyahu is facing more pressure, he is willing to go second to make any agreement.”

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  • Jonathan Lord

    Senior Fellow and Director, Middle East Security Program

    Jonathan Lord is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security program at CNAS. Prior to joining CNAS, Lord served as a professional staff member for the House Arme...