Mar 10, 2024 - World

"He is wrong": Bibi pushes back on Biden's criticism of Gaza war strategy

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting in Sept. 2023. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against President Biden's criticism of Israel's war strategy in Gaza, saying his policies are supported by a majority of Israelis.

Why it matters: The comments help illustrate the widening rift between the two leaders as the Israel-Hamas war grinds on.

State of play: Biden told MSNBC's Jonathan Capehart Saturday that Netanyahu's war strategy in the enclave was "hurting Israel more than helping Israel."

  • Netanyahu told Politico in an interview published Sunday that he didn't know what Biden meant.
  • "But if he meant that I am pursuing private policies against the wish of the majority of Israelis and that this hurts the interests of Israel — he is wrong on both counts," Netanyahu said.
  • "These are policies supported by the majority of Israelis....to say that these are my private policies is false," he added.
  • Yet Netanyahu has been met with at least some public discontent in recent weeks. Thousands of anti-government protesters filled the streets of several Israeli cities Saturday calling for early elections, Haaretz reported.

The big picture: While Biden remains committed to supporting Israel, he has begun to break with Netanyahu's government when it comes to Israel's actions in Gaza.

  • Biden was caught on a hot mic this week saying he was going to have "a come-to-Jesus meeting" with Netanyahu about the situation in Gaza.
  • The Biden administration has also expressed concern that a potential expansion of Israel's military operation into the southern Gaza city of Rafah would lead to mass casualties.
  • Biden told MSNBC Saturday that an operation into Rafah would be a "red line" — but did not specify the consequences should it proceed.

Zoom in: Netanyahu defied Biden's concerns and reiterated Israel's intent to move into Rafah, telling Politico, "we'll go there."

  • "You know, I have a red line. You know what the red line is, that October 7 doesn't happen again. Never happens again," he added.
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