Rift Deepens between Biden and Netanyahu

(Daily360.com) On March 18, Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since February 15 and the pair aired their grievances. The more than one-month span between calls is described as the longest such gap between the leaders since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7. Officials say prior to February 15, the men were speaking on a daily to weekly basis.

The Biden administration and other members of American government have recently been speaking more forcefully about wanting a cease-fire in the region. The phone call touched on this but was described as more narrowly focused on aid delivery to the people in Gaza and Israel’s coming operation in Rafah.

Pertaining to Rafah, Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan said, Biden expressed “deep concerns” to Netanyahu about its execution. He said the administration’s priority is foreign aid that should be delivered in coordination with any military action. Sullivan said Biden requested that Netanyahu send a senior military delegation to Washington, DC to discuss the matter. Sullivan told reporters that Netanyahu agreed to send this delegation either late in the week or early next week. Biden has said that any assault in Rafah would be a “red line” for him and that civilians in the area must be thought of first. Biden did not specify what crossing his “red line” would result in.

Netanyahu released a statement acknowledging the call and said the pair discussed the war and Israel’s determination to win it. He said they also discussed the hostages that are still being held in Gaza, and the necessity that Hamas never again pose a threat to Israel.

The day prior to the call, Netanyahu appeared on CNN to push back on recent remarks made by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer about snap elections in Israel to choose new leadership. Netanyahu remarked that many things being said by the American media cause him alarm. Sullivan downplayed any rift and said the two leaders are in agreement that the overall goal is Israel prevailing over Hamas.

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