Biden predicts "come to Jesus" meeting with Netanyahu over Gaza aid

Biden predicts "come to Jesus" meeting with Netanyahu over Gaza aid
US President Joe Biden said Benjamin Netanyahu must allow more aid into Gaza, after he was caught on a hot mic saying he would confront the Israeli premier.
3 min read
US President Joe Biden was overheard saying after his State of the Union speech on Thursday that he'd told Netanyahu they would have a "come to Jesus" meeting [Getty]

President Joe Biden said he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the two of them were headed for a "come to Jesus" meeting over the issue of getting humanitarian aid into Gaza, according to a video clip posted on Friday.

Biden was recorded making the comment on Thursday night while on Capitol Hill for his State of the Union speech in what appeared to be a further sign of his frustration at dealing with Netanyahu over the issue of Gaza.

In the clip, posted on social media by Democratic consultant Sawyer Hackett, Biden can be seen talking to Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennett, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Bennett can be heard telling Biden that there was a need to keep pushing Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The United States has been air dropping crates of aid into Gaza and is organizing construction of a temporary pier to allow for maritime deliveries since Israel has slowed truck deliveries.

"I told him, Bibi, and don't repeat this, but you and I are going to have a 'come to Jesus' meeting," Biden said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname. "I'm on a hot mic here. Good. That's good."

"Come to Jesus" is an American expression for having a blunt conversation.

Reporters asked Biden about the episode as he departed on Air Force One to Philadelphia.

"I didn't say that," he said initially, apparently referring to the fact that the comment was not in the Gaza section of his State of the Union speech.

Biden faces acute political pressure at home over his steadfast support for Israel's war on Gaza, but has been shifting his position on the need to reduce civilian casualties and tackle the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The hot mic comments after his State of the Union speech reinforced the impression of a growing rift with Netanyahu, as Israel and Hamas fail to agree a ceasefire.

In his address on Thursday, he called on the Israelis to do more to alleviate the suffering.

“To Israel, I say this humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip,” Biden said.

The president announced in his speech Thursday that the US military would help establish a temporary pier aimed at boosting the amount of aid getting into the territory. Last week, the US military began air dropping aid into Gaza .

Biden said the temporary pier, ”will enable a massive increase in humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza.”

Later on Friday, Biden at a campaign stop in suburban Philadelphia told reporters that the prospects of forging an extended ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is “looking tough.” Ramadan is expected to begin on Sunday.

Biden also said that he was worried about violence spreading to east Jerusalem.

Clashes have erupted during Ramadan in recent years between Palestinians and Israeli security forces around Jerusalem’s Old City, home to major religious sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims and the emotional epicenter of the Middle East conflict.