Biden Criticizes Netanyahu’s Approach to Gaza Conflict Amid Rising Civilian Casualties

Joe Biden
(Associated Press)

President Joe Biden recently expressed his views on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza, suggesting that Netanyahu’s actions may be doing more harm than good to Israel’s global standing. In a discussion with Jonathan Capehart on MSNBC, Biden voiced his concerns over the civilian casualties in Gaza and described the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) planned operations in southern Gaza as crossing a “red line.”

The backdrop of Biden’s remarks is the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, which has placed him under increasing scrutiny for his handling of the situation and the growing calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Biden’s critique of Netanyahu underscores a broader concern that Israel, under Netanyahu’s leadership, may be losing the battle of public opinion on the international stage, potentially undermining the values Israel traditionally stands for.

“I’m on a hot mic here,” Biden says after being alerted. “Good. That’s good.” Biden commented on the hot mic incident during his interview with MSNBC, saying: “It’s an expression used in the southern part of my state meaning ‘a serious meeting.’ I’ve known Bibi for 50 years, and he knew what I meant by it.”

Biden then turned to his postwar plans and working to secure a six-week ceasefire, hopefully by Ramadan, which begins on Monday. Biden said: “We should build off of that ceasefire…That’s the focus – what comes after Gaza. It’s a tough decision, but there’s a lot that can be done.”

During his recent State of the Union address, President Biden laid out his vision for bringing an end to the conflict, advocating for an extended truce that would be solidified by a deal involving hostages. He further proposed that Arab stakeholders should assist in rehabilitating Gaza, to reinstate a reformed Palestinian Authority to govern the area. Biden’s strategy also includes creating a pathway toward establishing a Palestinian state and fostering a broader regional coalition against Iran.

Biden’s candid remarks extended to a personal willingness to return to Israel and address the Knesset, although he remained reticent when questioned about whether such a visit would occur at Netanyahu’s invitation. The dynamic between Biden and Netanyahu has been notably tense, with Biden previously signaling that Israel’s international support could wane due to the significant civilian casualties in Gaza.

This tension was highlighted in a private conversation caught on a hot microphone, where Biden mentioned to Senator Michael Bennet the need for a “come to Jesus meeting” with Netanyahu, indicating a potentially pivotal discussion on the horizon concerning the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Despite these exchanges, Netanyahu has largely dismissed Biden’s proposed solutions, maintaining a focus on continuing the military offensive against Hamas and rejecting the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The conflict has resulted in significant loss of life and humanitarian distress, with Hamas’s actions on October 7 leading to approximately 1,200 deaths in Israel and the capture of around 250 hostages. Although a temporary truce in November saw the release of some hostages, Hamas has demanded a complete cessation of hostilities for the release of the remaining captives. The toll on Gaza has been severe, with over 30,000 Palestinians reported dead, the majority being women and children, and a dire humanitarian crisis unfolding as hundreds of thousands face hunger.

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