newsIsrael at War

Biden team denies US president insulted Netanyahu in private

A Politico story on Sunday claimed the president is "deeply suspicious" of Israel's prime minister.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on Sept. 19, 2023 at the United Nations General Assembly. Credit: UNGA/screenshot.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on Sept. 19, 2023 at the United Nations General Assembly. Credit: UNGA/screenshot.

The Biden administration has denied a report that the U.S. president has a strongly negative view of Benjamin Netanyahu and has used crude language to describe Israel’s prime minister.

A Politico story on Sunday said that the president is “deeply suspicious” of Israel’s leader and had said privately that Netanyahu was a “bad f–ing guy.”

In response, Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said, “The president did not say that, nor would he,” adding that the two heads of state have “a decades-long relationship that is respectful in public and in private.”

The Politico story focused on the assertion that the White House’s support for Israel’s war against Hamas is politically “untenable, potentially costing the president millions of liberal votes.”

Biden fears Netanyahu will drag the United States into a regional Mideast war, according to the report. Although Netanyahu has repeatedly said he wants to contain the fighting to destroying Hamas, and has cautioned Hezbollah in Lebanon against escalation, the report suggested that the Israeli leader in fact hopes for a regional war to reduce international pressure for a Gaza cease-fire and to solve his domestic difficulties.

It was to contain the political liability of supporting Israel that Biden traveled to Michigan on Thursday and condemned hate against Arab-Americans at the National Prayer Breakfast, the report said.

It also referred to Biden’s recent sanctioning of Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria for violence against Palestinians.

Even pro-Israel Democratic lawmakers are “contemptuous” of Netanyahu, the report said.

“It was unanimous that this Israel-Gaza war needed to end now and that Biden needed to stand up to Bibi,” a Democratic lawmaker said, according to the report.

“This is a disaster politically. The base is really pissed—and it’s not just the leftists. I have never seen such a depth of anguish as I’ve seen over this Gaza issue. Bibi is toxic among many Democratic voters and Biden must distance himself from him—yesterday,” the lawmaker added.

The report said that part of the challenge for Biden is that younger Gen Z Democrats (born mid-1990s to early 2010s) look to social media platforms like TikTok for their news and don’t hear of Biden’s pressure on Netanyahu behind the scenes.

Indeed, the Biden administration has made moves viewed as unsympathetic by a majority of the Israeli public, including his demands for more humanitarian aid at a time when Israeli hostages are held by Hamas with little food or medicine, and his calls for a two-state solution, a proposal bewildering to most Israelis, who consider it a reward to terrorists for carrying out their bloody massacre on Oct. 7.

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