Dec 12, 2023 - World

Biden, in rare criticism, warns Netanyahu that Israel risks losing global support

Netanyahu and Biden meet in October 2023.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets President Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport on Oct. 18. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden, during a fundraiser in Washington on Tuesday, called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to make changes to find a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Why it matters: This is a shift for Biden, who has mostly refrained from openly criticizing the Israeli leader and his policies since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, and it signals growing disagreement about what happens after the war.

  • "I think he has to change, and with this government. This government in Israel is making it very difficult for him to move," the president said in off-camera remarks.

Driving the news: Netanyahu has in recent days expressed renewed opposition to any role for the Palestinian Authority in governing Gaza after Hamas.

  • Netanyahu said during a hearing on Monday in the Knesset that both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, with whom his government is cooperating on security, want to destroy Israel.

Biden and other senior members of his administration have said in recent weeks that the Palestinian Authority should make reforms but must be involved in any future solution for Gaza after the war.

  • Biden has also said that once the fighting ends, peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority must resume in order to return to a path of a two-state solution.

What they are saying: During the fundraiser in Washington on Tuesday, Biden said Netanyahu had a "tough decision to make" regarding his government's policy after the war.

  • The president said the Israeli government "is the most conservative government in Israel's history" and doesn't support a two-state solution.
  • Biden warned that Israel is losing international support over the war in Gaza and therefore needs to change its policy.

The other side: Netanyahu's aides didn't comment on Biden's remarks other than stressing there are disagreements between the leaders.

  • Shortly before Biden made his comments, Netanyahu released a video in which he stressed that he appreciates the U.S. support for destroying Hamas, returning the hostages and blocking the international pressure to stop the war.
  • "Yes, there is a disagreement about the day after Hamas, and I hope we will reach an agreement here as well. After the great sacrifice of our civilians and soldiers, I will not allow the entry into Gaza of those who educate for terrorism, support terrorism and finance terrorism. Gaza will be neither Hamastan nor Fatahstan," Netanyahu said.

What's next: National security adviser Jake Sullivan is expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday and meet with Netanyahu.

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