Netanyahu hits back at Biden’s criticism: Policies are supported by ‘overwhelming majority’ of Israelis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Sunday interview fired back at President Biden’s suggestion that his policies were only hurting Israel.

“I don’t know exactly what the president meant, but if he meant by that that I’m pursuing private policies against the majority, the wish of the majority of Israelis, and that this is hurting the interests of Israel, then he’s wrong on both counts,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Politico.

Netanyahu said he thinks the majority of Israelis supports the operation in Gaza to destroy what’s remaining of Hamas — the U.S.-designated terrorist organization that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis in the Oct. 7 massacre and took about 250 hostages.

Netanyahu has since led an operation in Gaza to root out Hamas and to rescue the hostages, killing more than 30,000 estimated Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

“These are not my private policies only. They’re policies supported by the overwhelming majority of the Israelis. They support the action that we’re taking to destroy the remaining terrorist battalions of Hamas,” Netanyahu said.

“The majority of Israelis understand that if we don’t do this, what we’ll have is a repetition of the October 7th massacre, which is bad for Israel, bad for the Palestinians, bad for the future of peace in the Middle East,” he added.

As international calls for a cease-fire have increased, Biden has sharpened his rhetoric on the operation in Gaza, warning of the danger to Israel’s international reputation if it does not take more steps to allow humanitarian aid in and reduce civilian casualties. Biden has maintained, however, that he would not abandon support for Israel, despite growing pressure.

“What’s happening is he has a right to defend Israel, a right to continue to pursue Hamas,” Biden told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart in a Saturday interview. “But he must, he must, he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken.”

“In my view, he’s hurting Israel more than helping Israel,” Biden added. “It’s contrary to what Israel stands for. And I think it’s a big mistake.”

Netanyahu pushed back on Biden’s remarks and said he thinks Israelis also support his position against letting the Palestinian Authority (PA), which now governs the West Bank, govern Gaza after Hamas is gone. He said he also thinks Israelis support his view “that says that we should resoundingly reject the attempt to ram down our throats a Palestinian state.”

“That is something that they agree on,” he said.

The Israel Democracy Institute survey gauges Israeli sentiment on current events on a monthly basis.

In the institute’s most recent survey from February, about 64.4 percent of Israeli respondents — including 74.1 percent of Israeli Jews and 16.9 percent of Israeli Arabs — said they agreed Israel should “Expand the military operation into Rafah in order to pressure Hamas into agreeing to a better deal for the release of the hostages.”

When their December survey asked whom respondents wanted as the prime minister after the war, only 15 percent supported Netanyahu.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for a response to Netanyahu’s comments.

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