Saturday, May 25, 2024

Netanyahu’s attitude to war in Gaza ‘is a mistake’: Biden

US President Joe Biden has called Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to the war in the Gaza Strip a “mistake”, piling on his criticism of the Israeli leader one week after the White House threatened to alter its support.

“I think what he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach,” Biden told Univision in an interview.

Biden called an Israeli drone strike that killed several aid workers from World Central Kitchen who were distributing food in Gaza “outrageous”. That strike prompted a phone call between the two leaders, in which Biden warned the U.S. would reconsider its policy toward the war in Gaza if Israel did not do more to protect civilians.

“So what I’m calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a cease-fire, allow for the next six, eight weeks, total access to all food and medicine going into the country,” Biden told Univision.

“There’s no excuse to not provide for the medical and the food needs of those people. It should be done now.”

Tensions between Biden and Netanyahu have been simmering for months as the president faces a growing outcry from activists and some Democratic lawmakers over the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza. Thousands of voters in Democratic primaries have cast ballots for “uncommitted” or a protest vote in response to Biden’s handling of the war.

Biden has argued the Israelis have a right to defend themselves from Hamas while simultaneously pushing for Netanyahu to do more to protect civilians. In an interview last month with MSNBC, Biden stated Netanyahu was “hurting Israel more than helping” in his handling of the conflict.

But the situation reached a tipping point last week, following the strike that killed the World Central Kitchen aid workers. Israel took responsibility for the incident and called it a mistake.

The White House said after the call between Biden and Netanyahu that Israel needed to implement “a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers”, and that “U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps”.

Israel has since opened additional crossings to allow aid into Gaza, where thousands of Palestinians have been without access to adequate food, water and medicine.

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