Skip to main content

Biden inches Netanyahu toward pause in Israel-Hamas war

Israeli PM protects right flank, but needs return of Israelis held in Gaza.
US President Joe Biden (L), sits with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the start of the Israeli war cabinet meeting, in Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.

The take: US diplomacy with Netanyahu measured in inches, not miles

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been holding out on a temporary cease-fire and hostage release, describing Hamas’ conditions as "delusional," but may be coming around, slowly, toward a deal after speaking with US President Joe Biden on Thursday.

From the outside, the pressure on Netanyahu to reach a cease-fire and prisoner exchange and to hold off on an invasion of Rafah, where roughly 1.4 million Gazans displaced by the war have overwhelmed the city of 300,000, seems almost unbearable. Biden is more popular in Israel than Netanyahu is and polls higher there than he does in the United States.

Biden said Friday that there must be a temporary cease-fire to get the hostages out and that he does not expect a major military operation in Rafah. 

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.