Biden Becoming Increasingly Frustrated With Netanyahu
WASHINGTON, DC (IANS) – President Joe Biden and other senior US officials are becoming increasingly frustrated with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rejection of most of the administration’s recent requests related to the war in Gaza, media reports said.
Since the October 7 Hamas attack 100 days ago, Biden has given Israel his full backing, with unprecedented military and diplomatic support, even while taking a political hit from part of his base in an election year. That support has largely continued publicly, but behind the scenes, there are growing signs that Biden is losing his patience, US officials said, Axios reported.
“The situation sucks, and we are stuck. The President’s patience is running out,” one US official told Axios.
“At every juncture, Netanyahu has given Biden the finger,” Senator Chris Van Hollen who has been in close contact with US officials about the war, told Axios. “They are pleading with the Netanyahu coalition but getting slapped in the face over and over again.”
Biden hasn’t spoken to Netanyahu in the 20 days since a tense December 23 call, which a frustrated Biden ended with the words: “This conversation is over.” They had spoken almost every other day in the first two months of the war.
Before Biden hung up, Netanyahu had rejected his request that Israel release the Palestinian tax revenues it’s withholding, Axios reported.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby tried to downplay the decrease in communication, telling reporters on Wednesday that “it doesn’t say anything” about the state of the relationship.
But more and more signs of irritation are emerging. “There is immense frustration,” a US official said, Axios reported.
The main driver of Biden’s frustration is Netanyahu’s resistance to moving on requests that are US priorities.
In addition to the tax revenue issue, Biden and his advisers believe Israel isn’t doing enough to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, Axios reported.
They’re also frustrated by Netanyahu’s unwillingness to seriously discuss plans for the day after the war and his rejection of the US plan for a reformed Palestinian Authority to have a role in post-Hamas Gaza.
US officials are now growing increasingly concerned that Israel won’t meet its timetable to transition to low-intensity operations in Gaza by the end of January, based on where things stand in Gaza, particularly in the southern city of Khan Younis, Axios reported.
If Israel doesn’t significantly scale down its operations in Gaza – which U.S. officials have been pressing for in hopes of reducing Palestinian casualties, it will likely become increasingly difficult for Biden to maintain the same level of support for Israel’s military campaign.