update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Netanyahu counters Biden: Most Americans support Israel

Biden said that the Jewish state's "incredibly conservative government" risked losing it international support.

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.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night hit back at U.S. President Joe Biden for claiming that the Jewish state’s “incredibly conservative government” risked losing it international support.

“Since the start of the war, I have been leading a diplomatic campaign to block pressure designed to end the war prematurely and to secure strong support for Israel,” said Netanyahu in a video message.

“We have had considerable success. Today, a Harvard-Harris poll was published which shows that 82% of the American public supports Israel, meaning that four out of five U.S. citizens support Israel and not Hamas,” he continued.

“This will help us continue the campaign until total victory,” added the premier.

Speaking with Seth Meyer on NBC’s “Late Night on Monday,” Biden noted that the Israel Defense Forces campaign against Hamas in Gaza has so far “had the overwhelming support of the vast majority of nations.”

However, “if it keeps this up without [changing]—this incredibly conservative government they have, and [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben-Gvir and others, most—I’ve known every major foreign policy leader in Israel since Golda Meir—they’re going to lose support from around the world. And that is not in Israel’s interest,” said Biden.

The American president also signaled that a ceasefire in Gaza could be imminent, claiming that Israel had agreed to pause its military offensive during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins in early March.

“There’s a process underway that I think if we get that—that temporary ceasefire, we’re going to be able to move in a direction where we can change the dynamic and not have a two-state solution immediately, but a process to get to a two-state solution, a process to guarantee Israel’s security and the independence of the Palestinians,” stated Biden.

However, Israel’s Ynet quoted senior Israeli officials on Tuesday morning as saying that they do not understand “what the American president‘s optimism is based on.”

A spokesman for the Qatari Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that there has been no breakthrough in the negotiations, while Doha is “optimistic” that a deal can be reached even though gaps remain between the sides.

The Hamas terrorist group also weighed in on Biden’s comments, with a source telling Reuters that the statement was premature and did not align with the situation on the ground.

Disagreements over the war against Hamas are driving Biden towards a “breach” with Netanyahu, who he believes can no longer be “influenced even in private,” The Washington Post reported earlier this month, citing insiders in Washington.

Quoting “19 senior administration officials and outside advisers,” the newspaper said that Biden’s mounting frustration with Netanyahu has led some White House aides to suggest that the president ramp up public criticism of the IDF operation in Gaza.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 1 that Biden is frustrated over the number of casualties in Gaza, the displacement of civilians from their homes “and the lack of a road map for ending the fighting.”

On Feb. 11, a senior Biden administration official told NBC News that “there is a growing divide between the U.S. and Israel,” specifically over the looming IDF offensive in Rafah.

Politico has reported that Biden is “deeply suspicious” of Israel’s leader and had said privately that Netanyahu was a “bad f–ing guy.”

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