Biden says Netanyahu must change Israel government, support two-states
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to change his hardline government and that Israel cannot say no in the future to a Palestinian state, ramping up pressure on the Israelis.
Biden's remarks at a fundraising event for his 2024 re-election campaign was a further sign of growing U.S. concern at Israel's bombing in Gaza in which thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed.
"They're starting to lose that support," Biden said, referring to the international community's alarm at the bombing.
The sharp comments came as Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, prepares to travel to Israel for talks with the Israeli war cabinet.
Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel enjoys U.S. support for its goal of destroying Hamas and recovering hostages held by the Palestinian militants, but the allies differ about what might follow the Gaza war.
Biden specifically mentioned Israel's far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is Israel's national security minister, and said "this is the most conservative government in Israel's history."
"He (Netanyahu) has to change this government. This government in Israel is making it very difficult," Biden said.
He also said that ultimately Israel "can't say no" to a Palestinian state, which Israeli hardliners oppose.
Biden said "we have an opportunity to begin to unite the region ... and they still want to do it. But we have to make sure that Bibi understands that he's got to make some moves to strengthen... You cannot say no Palestinian state... That's going to be the hard part.
Sullivan said on Tuesday that during his visit to Israel he will discuss with Israeli officials their timetable for the war in Gaza.
"The subject of how they are seeing the timetable of this war will certainly be on the agenda for my meetings," said Sullivan, who is expected to travel later this week.
Biden has expressed strong support for Israel's military operation against Gaza but he and his team have expressed growing concern about the death of Palestinian civilians.