Netanyahu, the real President of the United States of Israel

Israel’s Netanyahu on Collision Course With Joe Biden

Dec 14, 2023

The Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is spiraling toward a diplomatic row with its closest ally after it rejected criticism by U.S. President Joe Biden about its conduct in the war against Hamas.

Much has happened since Biden stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Netanyahu in Israel soon after the October 7 Hamas attacks in which 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage. Biden since has expressed growing discomfort over civilian deaths in Gaza.

Biden warned that Israel was losing international support because of “indiscriminate bombing” by Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which health authorities in Gaza said has resulted in 18,600 deaths as of Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Biden added that Netanyahu needed to “change” and that his right-wing coalition allies were “making it very difficult for him to move” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But as the U.S. pressed Israel to take greater measures to spare civilians, Netanyahu was undeterred, saying on Wednesday that Israel is “continuing until the end,” and that “even given the great pain and the international pressure, nothing will stop us.”

The sentiment was echoed by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who said that Israel will continue the war in Gaza “with or without international support,” posing a growing headache for the U.S. president over such a public rebuke.

“Biden has to walk a tightrope in his relations with Netanyahu, and the more his spat spills out into public view, the greater the risks for the White House,” said Thomas Gift, the founding director of the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London.

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“Whichever way he pivots, it’s hard to think Biden isn’t in a lose-lose situation,” he told Newsweek. “Even as Biden reiterates his unwavering support for Israel, he’s also facing growing pressure at home to speak out against what some perceive as a disproportionate bombing campaign by the IDF in Gaza.”

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, arrived in Israel on Thursday to meet with Netanyahu and other officials to address aid to Gaza, the next phase of the military campaign and how to reduce harm to civilians.

“I don’t think it’s a deepening rift,” Osamah F. Khalil, a U.S. foreign relations and Middle East expert, told Newsweek. “What we’re seeing is par for the course. The U.S. expresses public handwringing and some dismay over the civilian casualties, then a senior administration official will give an anonymous quote critical of Israel.”

“Behind the scenes, we’re not seeing that. We still have the weapons being shipped and the very public cover at the UN,” added Khalil, a history professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. “It’s pretty clear that Israel still has U.S. support to continue the campaign—at least another few weeks.”

A clip went viral of an interview Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. Tzipi Hotovely gave Britain’s Sky News in which she was asked if there was any chance of Israel and Palestine existing side by side.

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