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As Biden-Netanyahu rift grows, so does pressure to condition aid to Israel

The growing rift between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Joe Biden, and rising discontent at the White House with the situation in Gaza, could lead the US president to respond more forcefully.
US President Joe Biden.

As the schism between the Biden administration and the Netanyahu government widens, there is growing concern in Israel that Washington could take harsher measures to demonstrate its discontent, including by conditioning or limiting future exports of American weapons to Israel or voting against Israel's stated interests at the UN Security Council. 

In an interview with the Univision Noticias channel on Tuesday, President Joe Biden spoke out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Gaza policies, notably the Israeli premier's stated commitment to a military operation in Rafah, where most displaced Gazans are sheltering. “I think what he's doing is a mistake. I don't agree.” Biden added, "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 himself has not suggested that the United States would limit military aid to Israel, but the view has growing support from within the Democratic caucus, including prominent lawmaker and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who in recent days signed a letter calling for the White House to halt military transfers to Israel.

Similarly, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Monday, “We are going to be watching them (the Israeli government) over the coming days, the coming weeks, to see that the steps they have announced actually lead to improved results, and we will make assessments and make determinations of our policy based on those results." Miller was referring to Biden having told Netanyahu last week on a tense phone call that his administration's support for Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza would be conditioned on Israel dramatically increasing humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip.  

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