Jeremy Bowen: Joe Biden’s search for a Middle East solution just got harder

Promoted post: Why Did Muhammad Fly to Jerusalem?

By Jeremy Bowen

BBC international editor

Even before the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza was destroyed, Joe Biden’s full-throated support for Israel had convinced Palestinians and millions of other Arabs that the United States was more than simply Israel’s most important supporter. They believed the Americans were also complicit in everything Israel was doing in Gaza, including killing children.

The bitter dispute over who was responsible for the attack will not change many minds. Twelve days of war have ramped up hatred and division.

Israel produced a detailed rebuttal of accusations that it had attacked Al-Ahli. It displayed evidence that it said proved a missile fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad had malfunctioned and dropped well short of its target in Israel.

For Palestinians – not just supporters of Hamas – the piles of bloodstained body bags were all the proof they needed. For them, the difference at Al-Ahli was not of principle but of degree. Israel has been killing scores of Palestinians every day since it responded to the Hamas surprise attack, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reminded Joe Biden, had killed at least 1,400 people, mostly Israeli civilians. Al-Ahli was, for Palestinians, more proof of Israel’s disregard for their lives.

The first reports of the destruction of the hospital emerged as the engines of Air Force One were warming up to bring Joe Biden to the Middle East. Before it could take off his schedule was in tatters.

President Biden has a deep commitment to Israel. It must have seemed natural to him to fly into Tel Aviv to show his support and offer a public embrace to Mr Netanyahu.

Biden had been hoping somehow to balance that out at a hastily-arranged summit in Amman, the Jordanian capital, where he planned to meet the king of Jordan, the president of Egypt and the Palestinian president.

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