Biden says Netanyahu is losing support and 'has to change'

US President criticises Israel's 'indiscriminate bombing' of Gaza

President Joe Biden is welcomed by Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu to Tel Aviv on October 18. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday warned that Israel is losing international support due to its “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza, even as Washington looks to send additional military aid to its long-time ally.

Speaking at a fundraising event for his 2024 presidential re-election campaign, Mr Biden said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has to change, and this government in Israel is making it very difficult for him to move”.

Israel's security can rest on the United States, but right now it has more than the United States. It has the European Union, it has Europe, it has most of the world supporting them,” he said.

“They’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place.”

The far-right government in Israel and the centre-left Biden administration have had a testy relationship that predates the war in Gaza.

“This is the most conservative government in Israel's history,” Mr Biden said. He added that the government “doesn't want a two-state solution”.

Earlier this year, when nationwide protests erupted across Israel over the government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, the White House expressed “deep concerns” and declined to say if it would invite Mr Netanyahu to Washington for an official visit.

But the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza briefly put the differences between Mr Biden and Mr Netanyahu to one side.

The US President quickly mobilised to send billions of dollars in additional funding to the Israeli military as it escalated its campaign in the Gaza Strip, where health authorities say more than 18,000 Palestinians have been killed and 90 per cent of the population has been displaced.

Last week, the State Department approved the sale of tank ammunitions to Israel that can be used in its ground campaign.

The scale of devastation in Gaza and the administration's continued support of Israel's operation despite rhetoric of “concern” have split a Congress that is normally unified in its support of Israel.

Key Democratic senators are working on a measure to require that the weapons received by any country “are used in accordance with US law, international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict”.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is working on the legislation, said US support for Israel cannot come in the form of a “blank cheque” and accused the Netanyahu government of a “gross disregard” for Palestinian civilian life.

“US military aid always includes conditions, and there is no exception, even for our allies,” she said on X.

The US is the top donor to Israel and “almost all US bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance”, a March 2023 congressional report showed.

Latest from Israel-Gaza war – in pictures

Updated: December 13, 2023, 6:28 AM