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David Friedman: Biden is ‘hampering’ Israel’s war effort

Biden "has really made some inappropriate comments," the former U.S. envoy told Israel's Channel 12.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at a prayer rally for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at a prayer rally for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

U.S. President Joe Biden is harming Israel’s efforts to demilitarize the Gaza Strip by demanding that Jerusalem scale back its military offensive against the Hamas terror organization, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Channel 12 on Monday.

Biden is “to some extent hampering the war effort by this desire to force Israel to engage in I think what he refers to as ‘low-intensity combat’… That’s sort of the kind of messaging that America has been giving Israel,” Friedman said in an interview with Channel 12‘s Yonit Levi.

“I think he has really made some inappropriate comments. He spoke about indiscriminate bombing that Israel engaged in, which I think is an outright lie. I think that he speaks continuously about this need to impose a two-state solution, which I think is tone-deaf right now,” the former envoy continued.

In an Oct. 12 post on X, Friedman had stated he was “deeply grateful” for Biden’s support in the aftermath of Hamas’s brutal massacre of 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in Israel’s northwestern Negev region.

“In Judaism there is an obligation of ‘Hakarat Hatov’—saying thank you to those who perform good deeds. While I have been, and remain, deeply critical of the Biden Administration, the moral, tactical, diplomatic and military support that it has provided Israel over the past few days has been exceptional,” he tweeted at the time.

“I feel less that way now, and I was concerned then that the president’s commitment would fade as Biden tries to balance his various political interests,” Friedman told Channel 12 on Monday.

Friedman served for four years under the Trump administration, which delivered a number of moves hailed by Israel and its supporters, including pulling out of the 2015 ‎nuclear deal with Iran.

“All this malign activity goes back to a strong Iran,” Friedman said, in reference to attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah. “When we left office, Iran was weak, if we were still in office, I think Iran would still be weak.

“There were Hamas attacks during the four years that I was ambassador—at no time did the United States put any handcuffs or limitations on Israel’s ability to respond,” he added.

The Biden White House is reportedly exploring the possibility of leveraging arms shipments to Israel to place pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scale back the war against Hamas and let more humanitarian aid into Gaza, NBC News reported on Sunday.

At the direction of the White House, the U.S. Department of Defense has been examining what weapons Jerusalem has requested that could be used as leverage, current and former officials told the outlet.

Among the weaponry under discussion are 155-mm artillery rounds and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) bomb guidance kits, which enable the Israel Defense Forces to accurately target terrorist operatives and avoid unnecessary civilian casualties in Gaza, NBC added.

John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the U.S. National Security Council, appeared to deny the report later on Sunday, telling reporters, “There has not been a change in our policy.”

On Jan. 8, IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told The New York Times that Israel had shifted to a new and less intense phase of its war against Hamas, giving in to repeated demands from Washington. Hagari said that the Israeli offensive had already started the transition to a campaign that would involve fewer ground troops and airstrikes.

Exactly one week later, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called a press conference to signal the impending end to heavy combat in Gaza’s north and south. “The intensive maneuvering phase in the north of the Gaza Strip has ended, and in the south, it will also end soon,” stated Gallant.

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