Israeli PM Netanyahu Says Biden ‘Wrong’ In Criticising Gaza War Policy – News18

Last Updated: March 10, 2024, 23:36 IST

US President Joe Biden attending a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visited Israel last year. (AP File Photo)

Netanyahu rejects President Biden’s criticism of Israel’s Gaza war approach. Biden warns of strained relations

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected US President Joe Biden’s remark that Israel’s approach to the war in Gaza was “hurting Israel more than helping Israel”.

“If he meant by that that I’m pursuing private policies against the majority, the wish of the majority of Israelis, and that this is hurting the interests of Israel, then he’s wrong on both counts,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Politico. This war of words between the two allies comes a day after Biden said Saturday that he believes Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than helping Israel” in how he is approaching its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Biden, who has till now backed Israel’s right to pursue Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack, said Netanyahu that “he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken.” The US government has for months warned that Israel risks losing international support over mounting civilian casualties in Gaza, and the latest remarks in an interview with MSNBC pointed to the increasingly strained ties between the two leaders.

Biden said of the death toll in Gaza, “It’s contrary to what Israel stands for. And I think it’s a big mistake.” He said a potential Israeli invasion of the Gaza city of Rafah is “a red line” for him, but said he would not cut off weapons like the Iron Dome missile interceptors which protect the Israeli civilian populace from rocket attacks in the region.

“It is a red line,” he said, when asked about Rafah, “but I’m never going to leave Israel. The defence of Israel is still critical, so there’s no red line I’m going to cut off all weapons so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them.” Biden said he was willing to make his case directly to the Israeli Knesset, its parliament, including by making another trip to the country.

Israel remains committed to continuing its invasion and annihilating Hamas, which killed about 1,200 people in Israel and took about 250 hostages on Oct. 7. The militant group freed dozens of hostages during a November truce. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Earlier, Biden had hoped to secure a temporary ceasefire before Ramadan begins next week.

(With agency inputs)