Mar 9, 2024 - World

Biden's "red line" on Gaza: "Can’t have another 30,000 Palestinians dead"

Joe Biden in front of Biden Harris sign

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event March 9 in Atlanta. Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

President Biden said in an interview on MSNBC on Saturday that he has a "red line" when it comes to the war in Gaza. "You can't have another 30,000 Palestinians dead as a consequence of going after (Hamas). There are other ways to deal with Hamas," he said.

Why it matters: This was the first time since the Hamas attack on October 7 that Biden said he has a "red line" for the Israeli military operation in Gaza.

  • Biden's remarks in the interview are another sign that the President's patience about the Netanyahu government is growing thin.
  • The president gave the "red line" remark in response to a question about a possible military operation in Rafah — something the administration has expressed serious concerns about.

Yes, but: Biden emphasized that he will not abandon Israel and will not stop the supply of weapons like Iron Dome in a way that Israel won't be able to defend itself.

Driving the news: President Biden was caught on a hot mic after his State of the Union address telling a Democratic senator he'd told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they were going to have a "a come to Jesus meeting" about the situation in Gaza.

  • When asked in the interview what he meant by that, Biden said it's a phrase that is used in Delaware in a serious way.
  • "Bibi knows what I meant," he added.

What they are saying: Biden noted that Israel has the right to defend itself and go after Hamas, but emphasized that Netanyahu "must, must, must" pay more attention to preventing civilian casualties in Gaza.

  • "He hurts Israel more than he helps Israel (by killing civilians). This is a mistake," Biden said.

The big picture: Biden said he is still working on getting a 6-week ceasefire during which hostages will be released. That can be built on for advancing a wider strategy in the Middle East.

  • He said that many Arab leaders, including the leaders of Saudi Arabia, are ready for normalization of relations with Israel.
  • "What comes after the Gaza war is what we need to focus on," Biden said.

What to watch: The president said in the interview that he would like to come to Israel again to address the Knesset and speak to the Israeli people. He refused to specify whether there are discussions on such a possibility.

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