Biden says Netanyahu making ‘mistake’ on Gaza

Biden says Netanyahu making ‘mistake’ on Gaza

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Gaza policy was a “mistake” and urged Israel to call for a ceasefire, in an interview aired Tuesday.

Biden’s comments were some of his strongest criticism yet of Netanyahu amid growing tensions over the civilian death toll from Israel’s war on Hamas and dire conditions inside Gaza.

“I think what he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach,“ Biden told Univision, a US Spanish-language TV network, when asked about Netanyahu’s handling of the war.

Biden reiterated that an Israeli drone attack last week that killed seven aid workers from a US-based charity in Gaza — and sparked a tense phone call with Netanyahu — was “outrageous.”

ALSO READ: US increasingly frustrated with Israel’s actions in Gaza – White House

“So I what I’m calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a ceasefire, allow for the next six, eight weeks, total access to all food and medicine going into the country,“ added Biden.

His remarks on a ceasefire marked a shift from his previous comments, in which he has said the burden lies with Hamas to agree to a truce and hostage release deal.

Biden also stepped up pressure on Israel to let more aid into devastated Gaza, saying he had spoken with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt and they were “prepared to move this food in.”

“There’s no excuse to not provide for the medical and the food needs of those people. It should be done now,“ he added.

The Biden interview underlined the dramatic shift his Israel policy since Israel’s killings of the World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza sparked global outrage.

– ‘We need results’ –

Biden has strongly supported Israel since the unprecedented October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, while expressing growing concerns over the human cost in Gaza.

ALSO READ: US welcomes Israel ‘taking responsibility’ for Gaza aid worker killings

But it was not until his tense call with Netanyahu last week that he finally warned that the United States would be forced to change policy if Israel did not change its own practices on Gaza.

In the call on Thursday, Biden had said Israel must led more aid in immediately and protect civilians, while urging Netanyahu to “empower his negotiators” to quickly reach a ceasefire with Hamas.

Israel responded by agreeing to open new aid crossings the same day, while it also announced at the weekend that it was withdrawing troops from Gaza’s southern city of Khan Younis.

But relations remain tense as Netanyahu has insisted that he has set a date for a major offensive on Rafah on the Egyptian border that Washington strongly opposes.

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With the US presidential election looming in November, Biden also faces growing opposition to his Gaza policy from Muslim and young voters, with key allies calling on him to change course.

Family members of some of the US hostages taken by Hamas during the attacks met Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on Tuesday as the negotiations for a deal continue.

“We need results. We need our people home,“ Rachel Goldberg, whose son Hersh Goldberg-Polin was among those captured, told reporters.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen, the father of American hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen, pushed Hamas to agree to a deal.

“It is in their court. There is no reason not to move forward on this deal,“ he said.

But he warned against a Rafah offensive before the hostages were released, adding that Israel’s actions “should not cause sacrifice a second time around of the hostages.”

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