Israel responded to this aggression with strikes in Gaza, killing at least 687 Palestinians so far, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israelis that this will be “a long war.”
President Biden is right to express America’s full support for Israel at this painful moment. The United States, as its closest ally, has a critical role to play. Moderate Israeli opposition leaders said they were prepared to join Mr. Netanyahu in an emergency government. The Biden administration, and all of Israel’s friends and allies, should encourage such a broad coalition. A unity government is the best chance Israel has to come together to defend itself against aggression, as it has at so many times in its history, and emerge from this war able to keep working toward a stable, secure future that includes peace with the Palestinians.
It is also the administration’s duty to work to prevent this terrible eruption of violence from spreading from Gaza to involve Palestinians in the West Bank. Mr. Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others have an invaluable role to play in maintaining open communication with leaders of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and of neighboring Arab states to urge calm.
For Republicans in Congress, this is an occasion to rise above political dysfunction and stand with the Biden administration to show resolve, in support of Israel and for peace and stability in the region. Israel and Hezbollah, an armed group based in Lebanon, exchanged fire on Sunday across Israel’s northern border. Hezbollah, like Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, is sponsored by Iran. Representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah have claimed that Iran helped prepare the attack, and while those reports are so far unconfirmed, the danger of a wider war is real and significant.
The U.S.-brokered efforts to establish relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a potential breakthrough in bolstering the security of the Middle East, are suddenly in jeopardy. Iran opposes that step toward peace, and if it was, in fact, behind the Hamas attacks, derailing this rapprochement may have been a major goal. Israel and Saudi Arabia should continue this effort and deny terrorists a veto over the nations’ futures.