President Biden spoke Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time in nearly a month and amid growing frustration in the White House with the Israeli leader over the course of the war against Hamas.
The call came following remarks by Netanyahu rejecting the creation of a Palestinian state that the U.S. has put as a priority goal in supporting Israel’s war against Hamas over the Oct. 7 terrorist attack.
A White House pool report said Biden discussed the latest developments in Israel and Gaza with Netanyahu. An official readout of the call is expected to be issued later. The last known call between the two leaders was Dec. 23.
Israel’s leaders have said its more than three-month military operation against Hamas is to destroy its ability to threaten Israel militarily and remove it from governing the narrow territory of the Gaza Strip.
The U.S. has sought to lay the groundwork for a post-war scenario, after Hamas’s destruction, that would include new efforts to establish a Palestinian state and unite Gaza with the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank.
FILE – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Dec. 10, 2023. A law that would make it harder to remove Netanyahu from office must go into effect only after the next parliamentary elections, the country’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, saying the legislation was clearly crafted for personal reasons. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Netanyahu has long been viewed as obstructing efforts to create a Palestinian state and is facing increasing pressure over his failure to prevent Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack and his handling of the war.
”This is not a new comment by Prime Minister Netanyahu,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters in response to a question about the prime minister’s remarks.
“We obviously see it differently. We believe that the Palestinians have every right to live in an independent state with peace and security. And the president and his team is going to continue to work on that.”
Biden is reportedly frustrated with Netanyahu for failing to heed U.S. calls to rein in Israel’s military operation over a staggering death toll on the side of the Palestinians, mass destruction in the Gaza strip and a slow drip of humanitarian assistance to those in need.
The president has stood against calls for Israel to agree to a cease-fire but is facing increasing pressure from Democrats in Congress — including from strong supporters of Israel — over U.S. military assistance to Israel seen as contributing to Palestinian deaths.
Top Stories from The Hill
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is recruiting support for an amendment to Biden’s national security supplemental, which includes aid for Israel, to more strictly commit to using U.S.-provided weapons in line with international humanitarian law. About 18 Senators are supporting Van Hollen’s language.
Earlier this week, 11 senators voted in favor of an ultimately failed amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would have required the State Department to report on any human rights violations occurring with U.S.-supplied weapons, and that could potentially freeze arms transfers to Israel.