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US President Joe Biden drew flak from all sides for suspending shipment of munitions to Israel as a way of showing displeasure over Tel Aviv’s decision to proceed with its ground operations at Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city.

The decision was condemned as abandonment of a key ally in the midst of a war. It was also derided as reinforcing perception that the US was an unreliable ally – putting its convenience first or responding to the vagaries of domestic politics.

This being a presidential election year featuring a close rematch between Biden and Donald Trump, every policy decision by the chief executive is bound to be processed through the prism of party positioning. Trump seized on the opportunity to play for Jewish votes by roundly decrying his rival’s decision as abandonment of an ally – even as he previously announced he would not support America’s NATO allies facing an aggressive Russia.

Biden’s suspension of weapons delivery happens after House Republicans held up military aid packages to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan by many months to score points against the Democrats. Ukraine, currently falling back from several positions in the face of a Russian offensive, might have performed better if weapons were delivered more promptly.

Biden justifies his position by saying that he did not want US bombs killing more civilians in the devastated territory. That sounds rather glib. Israeli forces have destroyed much of Gaza over the past months using US-supplied weapons. Rafah is the last enclave where Hamas still operates as an organized force.

Clearly, Biden was responding to anti-Israel campus protests the past few weeks. The protests enjoyed the support of left-wing Democratic Party stalwarts. Biden also needs to shore up electoral support from younger voters, exemplified by the students organizing anti-Israel encampments.

But the broad backlash to the suspension of arms delivery could force Biden to reconsider in the light of new developments in the war. This seems to be Biden’s operational code.

Recall that Biden opposed sending longer range missiles to Ukraine, fearing they would be used to attack Russian territory and widen the conflict, including Russian use