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Israeli official: Biden seeking to oust Netanyahu

"We expect our friends to act to overthrow the terror regime of Hamas and not the elected government in Israel,” said the official.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

A “very senior” Israeli official on Tuesday slammed a U.S. intelligence report that claimed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “may be in jeopardy,” amid ongoing criticism by the Biden administration over Jerusalem’s prosecution of the war against Hamas.

“Those who elect the prime minister of Israel are the citizens of Israel and no one else,” according to a statement issued to the media on behalf of the official.

“Israel is not a protectorate of the U.S. but rather an independent and democratic country whose citizens are the ones who elect the government. We expect our friends to act to overthrow the terror regime of Hamas and not the elected government in Israel,” added the official.

The statement followed Monday’s publication of the “2024 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community,” which outlined Washington’s expectation that large demonstrations will force Netanyahu’s resignation and bring about the replacement of his right-wing government with a “more moderate” coalition.

“Distrust of Netanyahu’s ability to rule has deepened and broadened across the public from its already high levels before the war, and we expect large protests demanding his resignation and new elections. A different, more moderate government is a possibility,” the report states.

The intelligence agencies noted that the longtime Israeli leader has “publicly stated his opposition to postwar diplomacy with the Palestinian Authority (PA) toward territorial compromise.”

In recent months, the Biden administration has been pushing for the P.A. to return to power in Gaza as a first step towards a Palestinian state. The White House has reportedly threatened unilateral recognition amid broad opposition to the move in Israel.

On Monday, Politico reported that U.S. President Joe Biden is considering conditioning military aid to Israel if Jerusalem moves forward with its conquest of the last Hamas stronghold of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

In an interview with MSNBC over the weekend, Biden said that conquering Rafah is a “red line,” before quickly clarifying that “I’m never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical, so there’s no red line [where] I’m going to cut off all weapons so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them.”

Netanyahu responded to Biden’s “red line” remarks, telling Fox News on Monday that destroying the final Hamas battalions is essential to winning the war.

“I mean, we have to have that victory. We can’t have three-quarters of a victory. We can’t have two-thirds of a victory, because Hamas will reconstitute itself with these four battalions in Rafah, reconquer the Gaza Strip and do the October 7th massacre over and over and over again. And for us, for Israel, not merely for me, but for the people of Israel, that’s a red line. We can’t let Hamas survive,” the premier said.

According to a survey published earlier this week, even Israelis who do not trust Netanyahu’s leadership continue to back some of his key war policies, including his opposition to the two-state solution and his insistence that the Israel Defense Forces defeat Hamas in Rafah.

Last year, weekly protests against Netanyahu’s now-shelved legal reform agenda rocked the Jewish state. The Movement for Quality Government in Israel, one of the organizations spearheading opposition to the initiative, received funding from the U.S. Department of State.

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