Skip to content

White House Plays ‘Charlie Brown’ to Netanyahu's ‘Lucy’

Once again, no surprise, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has jerked around the White House, with his completely transparent sabotaging of any hostage-ceasefire agreement. His latest escapade was his issuance on July 7 of four ridiculous and non-negotiable demands, designed to blow up the negotiations. (See “Netanyahu’s Sabotage of Ceasefire Talks.") While the White House may be in clear need of even a token deal, to divert from the relentless focus on President Biden’s cognitive issues, it seems unable to do anything but play “Charlie Brown” to Netanyahu’s “Lucy,” who promises over and over again to hold the football for Charlie to kick it, and while everyone knows she is just going to jerk it away, leaving him flat on his back.

White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby yesterday sent a protest, after a fashion, to Israel—though standard procedures require him to lump Hamas in with Netanyahu. He declared to the press that the public pronouncements of both sides are less important than the discussions happening behind closed doors with mediation by the U.S., Qatar, and Egypt: “On both sides, you see public comments that are not necessarily fully reflective of the conversations that we are having privately with them or their interlocutors.”

Apparently, Hamas’s sin was that it issued a public protest over Netanyahu’s deliberate sabotage, saying that he “continues to place more obstacles in front of the talks,” thus jeopardizing a successful outcome. Hamas also warned that the fresh assaults on Gaza risk returning “the negotiating process to point zero.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller explained Washington’s belief that “it is most productive to have these conversations in private, not in public. Sometimes, [you have] seen the Israeli government make public statements. Sometimes you’ve seen Hamas make public statements. We’re going to hold the negotiations in private.” Miller assured the press that Israeli officials remain committed to Washington’s three-phase proposal to settle the conflict in Gaza.

Such behavior in Washington does, indeed, send a message to Netanyahu, though not one that will allow the White House to change the headlines.