In private conversations, President Joe Biden has expressed growing frustration over his inability to influence Israel’s military tactics in the Gaza Strip, according to sources close to his comments. Naming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the primary obstacle, Biden reportedly described him as “impossible to deal with” and used the term “a**hole” on at least three occasions. Despite this candid criticism, a spokesperson for the National Security Council insisted that the two leaders maintain a respectful relationship in public and private.
Biden’s frustration stems from his attempts to persuade Israel to agree to a cease-fire, particularly concerning the impending ground assault on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. The reported civilian death toll of 28,000 in Gaza has intensified Biden’s concern, leading him to emphasize the need for a credible plan to ensure the safety of Palestinians in the area. Israel’s reluctance to pursue a long-term peace agreement has further strained the dynamic between Biden and Netanyahu.
The White House disclosed that Biden, in a recent phone call with Netanyahu, emphasized that any military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a detailed plan for protecting and supporting Palestinians. The conversation focused on a potential agreement between Israel and Hamas to release hostages and halt military operations in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners, a deal that has been repeatedly delayed.
While Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have taken a sharper tone in criticizing Israel’s military assault in Gaza, insiders suggest that the President is cautious about being too harsh publicly. Despite his frustration, Biden’s administration has not made significant policy changes, though discussions about delaying or slowing U.S. weapons sales to Israel as leverage have surfaced. Another potential policy shift includes the formal recognition of an independent Palestinian state.
Within the Democratic Party, there are calls to put conditions on U.S. aid to Israel, with some questioning Israel’s tactics, citing concerns about heavy bombardment and civilian casualties. Biden has also expressed irritation in private over what he perceives as Netanyahu rejecting favorable deals for Israel, such as the one involving Saudi Arabia.
In recent private moments, Biden has reportedly claimed that Netanyahu wants the war to continue to maintain his political power. Despite these frustrations, the President and his aides continue to assert their unwavering support for Israel, believing it to be the right approach. The reported candidness of Biden’s private remarks and the ongoing Gaza situation suggest that the relationship between the two leaders may be approaching an inflection point.
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