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Barring a “surprising turn of events,” fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas is expected to end on Thursday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported early this morning, citing a senior Israeli political official. The news contrasts with Israeli military statements on Tuesday that it would expand its bombing campaign in the coming days. More than 200 people have been killed so far in the conflict, with Palestinians making up the vast majority of the dead.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians across Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza joined in a general strike on Tuesday in protest of Israel’s military campaign and planned evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. In the West Bank city of Ramallah, three Palestinians were killed and 72 injured when protesters exchanged fire with soldiers at a nearby military base. In Jerusalem, Israeli police dispersed Palestinian protesters with stun grenades.
European Union foreign ministers were (almost) united in calling for an immediate cease-fire following an emergency meeting on Tuesday. Unanimity was denied by Hungary, whose Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the EU statement “one-sided.” Other ministers pledged to restart the peace process alongside the United States, Russia, and the United Nations.
The human cost. As the bombings continue, the human toll is becoming clearer. More than 52,000 people in Gaza have been displaced by Israel’s aerial assault, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday, with most seeking refuge in U.N.-run schools. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) confirmed that 11 of the more than 60 children killed so far by Israeli airstrikes were participants in an NRC program helping children deal with trauma.
Credibility test. Even if hostilities soon end, the Biden administration’s resistance to a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire has tested U.S. credibility. “They pledged to come back and support the U.N. system and multilateralism,” one council diplomat said in a report by Foreign Policy’s  Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer. “We don’t see that happening now in the Security Council.” The episode also encouraged China to carve out a leadership role at the Security Council on Middle East issues, a topic where it usually takes a back seat, while at the same time allowing it to dodge questions on its actions in Xinjiang.
Democratic discord. Rep. Gregory Meeks, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has reportedly backed down from calling on Biden to delay a $735 million arms deal with Israel. Democrats are still pressuring the president, however. Rep. Rashida Tlaib confronted Biden in person on the airfield tarmac as he visited Dearborn, Michigan—home to the largest Muslim population per capita in the United States. “Congresswoman Tlaib reiterated that the status quo is enabling more killing, that the current U.S. approach of unconditional support for the Israeli government is not working, and that the White House must do far more to protect Palestinian lives, dignity, and human rights,” an aide to Tlaib said. Biden praised Tlaib before his speech at an automobile plant. “You’re a fighter and God thank you for being a fighter,” Biden said.
Biden’s side. Multiple reports appeared on Tuesday, attempting to shine light on Biden’s approach not to call publicly for a cease-fire. They depict an administration wary of getting on the bad side of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and inviting the possibility of the conflict dragging on for weeks.
The tactic has been criticized as a misreading of U.S. leverage over an ally to which it provides significant military aid and political support. Shibley Telhami, writing in the Boston Globe, voiced some of that criticism on Tuesday. “If an American president cannot leverage this extraordinary and unprecedented support to advance core American values,” Telhami writes, “what hope is there for succeeding anywhere else?”
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