OPINION: Biden’s SOTU plan to build aid port for Gaza would cost $billions, solve little – National & International News – FRI 8Mar2024

During last night’s State of the Union, Biden announced a bold – and costly – plan to get desperately needed aid into Gaza. Biden declared he’s “not waiting for Israel” to do the right thing. However, more could be achieved, at far less cost, if Biden was willing to leverage more than tough talk against Israel.


by Liz Shiverdecker

Ahead of last night’s State of the Union address, the Biden administration leaked its new plan to get aid into Gaza. Biden laid out more specifics during the speech. “Tonight,” Biden said, “I’m directing the US military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the Gaza coast that can receive large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters”.

All of this seems to be a response to growing outrage among Americans at Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. A poll at the end of January showed over half of potential Biden voters believed that Israel is committing a genocide against Gaza’s Palestinians, while 30% said they were unsure. Democratic voters have recently expressed their anger over Biden’s unconditional military support for Israel by voting “uncommitted” in primaries.

Realizing his support for Israel is endangering his November electoral prospects, Biden has decided to make some very splashy and costly efforts to increase aid to Gaza. But what will it actually achieve?

Change in tone, not in policy

The administration has recently changed tone when speaking about Israel, expressing more concern for Palestinian lives. However, there has been no real change in policy. The administration is continuing to send weapons to Israel, even using loopholes to avoid public scrutiny or Congressional approval.

Human rights groups have accused Israel of intentionally blocking most food aid coming in trucks to land crossings into Gaza. For over a month, the Israeli army has allowed far-right protesters to block aid trucks from entering the lone open land crossing into Gaza at Karem Shalom. The protesters have even set up bouncy castles in the middle of the crossing to keep their children entertained.

Rather than forcing Israel to uphold its humanitarian obligations, the US and several other countries airdropped some aid into the Strip. Air drops are an enormously inefficient and costly means of getting desperately needed food aid into Gaza. This week in three air drops, the US dropped a total of about 113,000 meals into Gaza. That’s enough to provide one meal for less than 5% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people. Air drops are also not foolproof. This week, a cargo parachute on one of these air drops failed to open, dropping a parcel onto five children in Gaza and killing them

The port plan will likely be even more costly, but it would enable delivery of an estimated 2 million meals per day. However, despite delusional claims from EU leader Ursula von der Leyen, establishing this port is likely to take around 60 days. Meanwhile, children in Gaza are already starving to death. Even once the port is established, there doesn’t seem to be a plan in place for distributing the aid. Adding to the inefficiency, Israeli officials will also be allowed to inspect each of these aid shipments in Cyprus before it ever even sets sail for Gaza. 

While anything that gets more aid into Gaza is a good thing, the air lifts and the makeshift port are likely to cost US taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. None of it would be necessary if Biden would push Israel to allow aid trucks in. Nor would it be necessary if Biden stopped sending Israel weapons to continue its military assault on Gaza.

Biden still not funding UNRWA

Unlike other countries, including Canada, the US has also not yet restored its funding of the UN Relief and Works Agency, the primary aid agency in Gaza. The US and over a dozen other countries cut their funding to UNRWA when Israel accused 12 of UNRWA’s 13,000 employees in Gaza of being involved in the Oct. 7 attack.

Incidentally, Israel announced these allegations on the very day that the International Court of Justice found that Israel was plausibly committing a genocide in Gaza. Testimony from UNRWA staffers and officials featured prominently in the ICJ case against Israel.

More than a month later, Israeli has yet to furnish the US or any of their allies with any evidence to support their claims against UNRWA. Even though these accusations seem to have come to nothing, Biden still doesn’t want to be seen crossing Israel by restoring the US’ UNRWA funding. Instead, his administration is asking Turkey and the Gulf States to chip in more to UNRWA on their behalf.

Tough talk, all for show

Last night, Biden was “caught” on a hot mic saying he was going to have a “come to Jesus meeting” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite this tough talk, Biden has shown little willingness to use any of the considerable leverage at his disposal to make Israel change course. He capitulates with one hand and vainly pounds a fist with the other. It begs the very question reportedly asked by Bill Clinton as he left an unproductive meeting with Netanyahu nearly 30 years ago: “Who’s the f—ing super power here?”.


1 reply
  1. Fritz Groszkruger says:

    Excellent article stating questions we should all be asking. The gist of which would be… cut yourself so you can use a band aid? Politicians are exceptionally evil.


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