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The New York Times

Violence in Israel Challenges Biden’s ‘Stand Back’ Approach

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden took office in January with little interest in pursuing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, for understandable reasons. President Bill Clinton hosted an Israeli-Palestinian summit during his first year in the White House. President Barack Obama appointed a Middle East peace envoy on his second full day in office. And before his swearing-in, Donald Trump vowed to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal “which no one else has managed to get.” All of them failed to achieve a peace deal, as did President George W. Bush, who took up the cause later in his presidency. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Even before the recent explosion of violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip, analysts agreed that prospects for a successful negotiation continued to look hopeless in the near term, with neither side prepared to make concessions the other would demand. Biden and his senior advisers have largely accepted that status quo. Determined to shift the focus of American foreign policy to China from the Middle East and seeing no reliable partner in an unstable Israeli government led by an embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has pursued hard-line positions toward the Palestinians, Biden has issued familiar endorsements of a two-state solution while making little effort to push the parties toward one. But as spiraling riots, rocket attacks on Tel Aviv, Israel, and airstrikes on the Gaza Strip threaten to escalate into a major conflict, calls are growing in the Democratic Party for Biden to play a more active role. Some liberals urge him to more firmly challenge Israeli settlement activity, which makes a peaceful resolution with the Palestinians harder to achieve. “The problem with the Middle East is that you can try

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