Netanyahu hits back at Biden: ‘I’ve got my own red line’

Netanyahu hits back at Biden: ‘I’ve got my own red line’

The PM defended himself against remarks by the U.S. president, saying the “vast majority” of Israelis support his policies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responding to recent remarks by U.S. President Joe Biden, said on Sunday that he, too, has a red line: “You know what the red line is? That October 7 doesn’t happen again.”

Netanyahu made his comments to Paul Ronzheimer, deputy editor-in-chief of German newspaper BILD, who was reporting for Axel Springer, the parent company of Politico.

The prime minister referred to comments by Biden on March 10, in which he was asked by MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart: “Do you have a red line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? … For instance, the invasion of Rafah, which you have urged him not to do—would that be a red line?”

Biden did not refer specifically to Rafah, saying only, “You cannot have another 30,000 dead as a consequence [of pursuing Hamas],” citing a figure presented by Hamas for casualties in Gaza.

Weapons found by Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the southern Gaza City district of Zeitoun. Credit: IDF.

The president prefaced that remark by saying, “I’m never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical. So there’s no red line [where] I’m going to cut off all weapons so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them.”

Of Netanyahu, Biden said, “He is hurting Israel more than he is helping.”

The prime minister, when asked by Ronzheimer what he thought Biden meant, said, “I don’t know exactly what the president meant, but if he meant by that, that I’m pursuing private policies against the wishes of the majority of Israelis and that this is hurting the interests of Israel then he’s wrong on both counts.”

Netanyahu said that his policies are supported by the vast majority of the Israeli people, who recognize the need to destroy all of Hamas’s battalions in Gaza and that the Palestinian Authority should not be put in charge of Gaza on the day after, given its own support for terrorism.

“[Israelis] also support my position that says that we should resoundingly reject the attempt to ram down our throats a Palestinian state,” Netanyahu said.

“So the attempt to say that my policies or my private policies that are not supported by most Israelis is false, and the vast majority are united as never before. And they understand what’s good for Israel,” he added.

(The Biden administration has from early in the war insisted that a Palestinian state should be the end game, a position reaffirmed by Biden at his State of the Union address on Thursday: “As we look to the future, the only real solution to the situation is a two-state solution over time.”)

Netanyahu’s rebuke of Biden was unusual as Israel has strived to avoid open confrontation with the U.S., which has supplied it with a massive influx of arms to fight its war against Hamas.

However, even as arms and materiel continue to flow, the Biden administration’s public comments have become ever more critical of Israel’s conduct of the war.

Israelis have taken note of the sharpened rhetoric. According to a survey published on Sunday, three in four Jewish Israelis say that Biden’s initial support for the Jewish state after the Oct. 7 massacre has dwindled.

During a Fox News interview on Monday, Netanyahu was asked if a “fractured relationship” had developed between Israel and the U.S. and whether the U.S. was pressuring Israel to take its foot “off the gas” in its war against Hamas.

“Ultimately, it’s Israel that has to decide. Our neck is on the line,” Netanyahu responded. “I’m telling you that we’re not getting off the gas. I’m telling you that we have to take care of Israel’s security in our future. And that requires eliminating the terrorist army. That’s a prerequisite for victory.”

A U.S. cargo plane arrives in Israel with armored vehicles. Credit: Israeli Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office. (source: JNS)

Pointing to a recent poll showing 82% of Americans support Israel’s war against Hamas, Netanyahu said Americans “recognize that our battle is your battle, and our victory is your victory. And I’m sure that deep down everyone in Washington understands that.”

The main theme of White House criticism is Israel’s obligation to supply aid to Palestinian noncombatants.

Israel says it is allowing enough aid through, but that U.N. inefficiencies on the Gaza side of the border leave the aid undistributed. Secondly, when aid is distributed, it is often hijacked by Hamas, helping to prop up the terrorist group, which is seen by the population as still in control given it manages the food supply.

In his State of the Union address, Biden announced his intention to establish a temporary pier to bring in aid from the Mediterranean. Israel has not opposed the initiative, with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying on Sunday that it will “help lead to the collapse of the Hamas regime.”

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