For Biden, like Obama, every ‘red line’ turns to a shade of gray

For Biden, like Obama, every ‘red line’ turns to a shade of gray

Politico reports:

After watching Israel flatten much of Gaza, President Joe Biden decided to draw the line at the city of Rafah. Now, he has to decide what to do if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu crosses it.

The president quietly directed his team last week to halt shipments of massive bombs to Israel to “deliver a message” to Netanyahu that no operation should move forward without a civilian protection plan in place, a U.S. official said.

Then, after Netanyahu moved forward with a push into Rafah, Biden gave a primetime interview Wednesday in which he vowed not to send Israel more of the large bombs and artillery shells it would likely use for a major assault on a city with more than a million Palestinians.

The administration is hoping that the threat is enough to stop a large-scale invasion of Rafah from happening, even as it continues to struggle to explain what, exactly, crosses their red line. Officials say they don’t want Israel to launch an operation that could further destroy infrastructure and send more civilians fleeing for safety, but they’ve consistently referenced being open to smaller, more-targeted missions in the southern Gaza city.

Netanyahu, who faces mounting domestic pressure to destroy Hamas and bring hostages home, appears poised to escalate the campaign, even without the U.S. president by his side as he has been since the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas that started the war.

“If that happens, we would need to make choices,” said a second U.S. official, one of three granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive hingepoint in the war. “It hasn’t happened, and it may well not happen. That’s what we’re working on.” [Continue reading…]

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