The US president declared that Israel “can’t say no” to the creation of a Palestinian state
US President Joe Biden warned that Israel risks losing international support if it continues its “indiscriminate” bombing campaign in Gaza at a campaign fundraiser in Washington, DC on Tuesday, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “change his government.”
Biden offered some of his harshest criticisms of Israel to date, suggesting that its war against Hamas risked a loss of support among Washington’s allies. All of the other UN Security Council members except the UK (which abstained) had attempted to issue a resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza last week, which was vetoed by Washington.
“Israel’s security can rest on the United States, but right now it has more than the United States. It has the European Union, it has Europe, it has most of the world… But they’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place,” Biden said.
He went on to cite a private discussion with Netanyahu in which Israel’s prime minister likened the Gaza conflict to the Second World War and observed that “a lot of civilians died” in Allied bombing raids.
However, Biden said he rejected that comparison and told Netanyahu that “all these institutions were set up after World War II to see to it that it didn’t happen again.”
Calling Netanyahu’s administration “the most conservative government in Israel’s history,” Biden said the prime minister must “change his government,” without elaborating, only adding that it had made long-term solutions “very difficult.”
“We have an opportunity to begin to unite the region… and they still want to do it. But we have to make sure that [Netanyahu] understands that he’s got to make some moves… You cannot say no Palestinian state,” the president continued.
Although Israel has accepted the creation of a Palestinian state in principle in past negotiations, Netanyahu has long opposed the move. In a statement earlier on Tuesday, he insisted that he would never “repeat the mistake of Oslo,” referring to a 1993 peace deal which created a roadmap for a Palestinian state.
Despite Biden’s more critical comments to donors, elsewhere he has continued to voice staunch support for Israel’s military operation. During a White House event to mark the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Monday, he told attendees “I am a Zionist” while reiterating Washington’s “unshakable” commitment to Israel’s security.
The president continues to urge lawmakers to approve a spending package which includes $14.3 billion in military aid for Israel, and recently bypassed a congressional review to fast-track the sale of $106.5 million in tank shells to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Israel began its assault on Gaza following a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, which claimed the lives of some 1,200 Israelis and saw more than 240 people taken hostage. In retaliation, the IDF has pounded the Palestinian enclave with heavy airstrikes and launched a major ground invasion, killing more than 18,400 people so far, according to local officials.