Biden: “Every reason” to think Netanyahu is prolonging war for his own political self-preservation

“Before the war began," Biden told Time, he was getting "blowback" from Israeli military and public

Published June 5, 2024 7:57AM (EDT)

US President Joe Biden is welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 18, 2023. (GPO/ Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden is welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 18, 2023. (GPO/ Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on Truthout.

President Joe Biden has said that there is “every reason” to believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is continuing his assault on Gaza for political gain, appearing to acknowledge that Netanyahu is not interested in pulling out of the region despite the Biden administration’s insistence that the latest ceasefire deal is backed by Israel.

In an interview with Time Magazine published on Tuesday, Biden was asked: “Some in Israel have suggested that Netanyahu is prolonging the war for his own political self-preservation. Do you believe that?”

The president responded, “There is every reason for people to draw that conclusion.” He added: “Before the war began, the blowback he was getting from the Israeli military for wanting to change the constitu—change the court. And so it’s an internal domestic debate that seems to have no consequence. And whether he would change his position or not, it’s hard to say, but it has not been helpful.”

The remark acknowledging Netanyahu’s choice to continue the siege came almost directly after Biden blamed the prolonging of the assault on Hamas, appearing to contradict himself in his continued insistence on blaming Israel’s genocide on Palestinians.

“Hamas could end this tomorrow. Hamas could say (unintelligible) and done period,” he said, as Time transcribed. “Bibi is under enormous pressure on the hostages, on the hostages, and so he’s prepared to do about anything to get the hostages back.”

Reports have found that Biden’s claims are untrue. In a rare statement after Biden announced his administration’s supposed backing of a permanent ceasefire deal on Saturday, Netanyahu said that his conditions for a ceasefire have not changed and that Israel is still committed to the total destruction of Hamas and “ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat” before it will pull out.

“The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter,” he said.

This statement severely undercuts Biden’s claims that the ceasefire deal has been backed by Israeli officials. The plan presented by Biden is similar to previous deals approved by Hamas leaders, and calls on both sides to release prisoners and hostages, for Israel to gradually withdraw from Gaza and for Palestinians to be allowed to return to their homes — or what is left of them.

Also undercutting Biden’s claim of supporting a ceasefire deal is his refusal to withhold or condition military assistance to Israel in order to pressure Israeli forces to stop their relentless bombardment of Gaza.

The Biden administration claims that Hamas is the one opposed to the ceasefire. But Hamas officials appeared ready to consider and accept the plan on Saturday.

“Hamas confirms its readiness to deal positively and in a constructive manner with any proposal that is based on the permanent ceasefire and the full withdrawal [of Israeli forces] from the Gaza Strip, the reconstruction [of Gaza], and the return of the displaced to their places, along with the fulfilment of a genuine prisoner swap deal if the occupation clearly announces commitment to such deal,” the group said.

Indeed, based on reports, it appears that the exact opposite of what Biden and his administration are claiming is true: It is not Hamas blocking the ceasefire deal, but Israeli officials who have vowed to continue the assault. Further, Hamas officials have reportedly expressed concerns that Israeli leaders appear to be calling solely for the release of Israeli hostages, which is only the first phase of the three-phase proposal, and that Israel will then continue its assault.

By Sharon Zhang

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Benjamin Netanyahu Gaza Israel Joe Biden