Biden Questions Netanyahu’s Handling of Hamas Conflict


“There is every reason for people” to think that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is prolonging Israel’s conflict with Hamas, according to President Joe Biden.

The ongoing war with Hamas and the domestic political issues facing both leaders have strained the long-standing relationship between Netanyahu and Biden. Insights into how the U.S. president views his Israeli counterpart came to light in recent remarks he made to Time magazine.

“There is every reason for people to draw that conclusion,” Biden said in response to whether Netanyahu is extending the war for political self-preservation, after initially saying he would not comment. “I would cite the pushback he was getting from the Israeli military for wanting to change the court before the war began. So, it’s an internal domestic debate that seems to have no consequence. Whether he would change his position or not, it’s hard to say, but it has not been helpful.”

As Biden indicated, Netanyahu is at a challenging juncture domestically, with ultranationalist members of his governing coalition threatening to dissolve the government if a current ceasefire proposal, designed to release hostages in phases, is accepted and implemented.

Biden’s comments to Time came just days before publicly announcing the latest ceasefire proposal, which the United States hopes will halt the fighting and pave the way for the war’s complete cessation.

The proposed three-phase plan starts with a six-week ceasefire, the release of women, children, and other vulnerable hostages held by Hamas, the release of “hundreds” of Palestinian prisoners, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated areas of Gaza, and increased humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilians.

During a cessation of fighting, the U.S. and other international aid workers could more safely deliver aid to Palestinians. The conflict has claimed the lives of about 200 humanitarian workers, and all of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents face acute food insecurity.

The proposal lacks specific details for the second phase, but many of these will be negotiated during the first phase. This phase would likely include the release of all remaining living Israeli hostages and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza “as long as Hamas lives up to its commitments,” according to the president’s statements last week.

Biden’s mention of the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza led to questions about whether Netanyahu had agreed to end the war before achieving his objectives.

“The claims that we have agreed to a ceasefire without our conditions being met are incorrect,” Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to his office.

On Monday, Biden spoke with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, confirming that Israel is ready to move forward with the terms offered to Hamas. He urged al Thani “to use all appropriate measures to secure Hamas’ acceptance of the deal and affirmed that Hamas is now the only obstacle to a complete ceasefire and relief for the people of Gaza.”

The U.S. is also pursuing a historic normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, viewed as a long-term path to regional peace. This deal, initially advancing before the October 7 attacks and subsequently shelved, forms part of the Biden administration’s long-term peace strategy for post-war conditions. The Saudis have stated that any agreement must include a path towards Palestinian statehood, a stance that aligns with the president’s views.

The ceasefire proposal under consideration by Hamas may signal the beginning of Netanyahu’s political decline, but it could also result in the hostages’ return, the end of the conflict, and significant normalization efforts with Israel’s neighboring countries.

Mike Brest
Mike Brest
Defense Reporter. Prior to joining the defense beat, he spent two years covering breaking news, and he worked at the Daily Caller in a similar capacity before that. Mike graduated from American University and is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia.

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