Joe Biden has managed to anger everybody on Israel

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden threw down the gauntlet against former president Donald Trump and challenged him to two debates in June and September, rejecting the traditional calendar. It’s a bold move meant to signal that he’s unafraid to be combative.

But back in Washington, the president has angered both Democrats and Republicans when it comes to his policy on Israel amid its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Biden last week said that the United States would not support Israel if it went into Rafah and paused the shipment of 1,800 bombs weighing around 2,000lbs (907kg) and 1,700 bombs weighing 500lbs (227kg). But on Tuesday, the administration informed Congress that it planned to send more than $1bn in new weapons to Israel.

While the Biden administration thinks it is trying to walk a tightrope, its splitting the difference has wound up infuriating everyone.

Republicans, furious that Biden withheld even some aid to Israel, have proposed legislation that states “no federal funds may be used to withhold, halt, reverse, or cancel the delivery of defense articles or defense services to Israel.” The bill would also require that some money meant for maintaining the office of the Secretary of State and Defense “may not be spent until each office certifies to Congress that any withheld defense articles or services are delivered to Israel.”

This is obviously a messaging bill that has little chance of passing the Senate. But it is meant to turn up the heat on pro-Israel Democrats while also highlighting Biden’s policy, which they hope to portray as anti-Israel.

At the same time, Biden is not winning over many people in his own party. On Friday, the State Department dropped its report saying that it found “reasonable” evidence Israel has violated international humanitarian law in its use of US weapons in Gaza. But the report did not link the violations to Israel’s use of US weaponry, which allows the Biden administration to continue future sales to Israel.

The fact that the Biden administration dropped the report — known as an national security memorandum or an NSM-20 — on a Friday afternoon, when the House and Senate were out and they expected most reporters not to pick it up, shows that they knew it would cause anger and costernation amongst its critics.

The response by Democrats was swift. Last week, Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a critic of Israel’s military action in Gaza, told The Independent: “This report will be a test of the Biden administration’s credibility as to whether or not they’re willing to look at all the facts and apply the law to the war in Gaza.”

But on Wednesday, Van Hollen told The Independent that while the NSM-20 is a useful tool, he was less than impressed by the results.

“I think that the administration avoided making some tougher decisions,” he said. “On the other hand, they did recognize that it's reasonable to conclude that there have been violations of international humanitarian law.”

Similarly, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, a moderate Democrat who nonetheless has criticised Israel’s conduct in Gaza, expressed disappointment in the NSM-20’s contents.

“I was disappointed in the portion dealing with the humanitarian aid,” Kaine, who cited the killing of a United Nations aid worker, said. “And I feel like the NSM gave Israel a higher grade than was warranted.”

Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who hails from a state with many weapons manufacturers and defense contractors, has criticised presidents of both parties for bypassing Congress when it comes to military action. Nonetheless, as a former vice presidential candidate, he’s a steadfast supporter of the president. So his decision to speak out shows dissatisfaction from multiple wings of the Democratic Party.

Throughout the war, Biden has steadfastly supported Israel, pushing for Congress to successfully pass a massive supplemental package that provided $26.38bn in aid to Israel and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. This comes despite the fact that many believe the Biden administration’s actions played a role in Gaza’s devastating famine.

Members of the Squad, the progressive coterie in the House, criticised the sale of weapons to Israel.

“I think we need to be consistent with the NSM-20’s findings here and I think it's up to us to ensure that that happens,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told The Independent.

“We should be doing everything right now to save lives,” Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts said. “That's why I continue to advocate for a permanent ceasefire to save lives and to deliver humanitarian aid and to return the hostages home. He should reverse course.”

Tellingly, when asked about Biden’s decision, Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York — who faces a pro-Israel Democratic primary challenger — said his office would get back to The Independent.

The Biden administration would have likely always received criticism from Democrats for its steadfast support for Israel, even if had elected to withhold aid even earlier. But they likely did not expect the Republican blowback.

Somehow, the president has managed to anger everyone.