The strained relationship between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to escalate, with Biden growing increasingly frustrated by Netanyahu’s unwillingness to heed his advice on handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to a recent report by Axios, the two leaders have not spoken since a heated call on December 23, which ended with Biden abruptly ending the conversation.
The source of Biden’s anger stems from Netanyahu’s refusal to release tax revenue that is meant to be allocated to the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank. This issue, along with Israel’s rejection of the Biden administration’s push for more significant humanitarian aid for Gaza and the involvement of the Palestinian Authority in governing postwar Gaza, has created a growing rift between the two governments.
Furthermore, the Biden administration is concerned that Israel’s ongoing ground war in Gaza will not be completed by the end of the month, which could make it more challenging for the US to defend Israel against its critics. Israel’s military actions in Gaza were prompted by an attack by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people and the taking of numerous hostages on October 7.
Unnamed US officials cited by Axios express immense frustration with the situation, with one official stating, “The situation sucks and we are stuck. The president’s patience is running out.” Democratic lawmakers, including Senators Chris Van Hollen and Chris Coons, have publicly voiced their frustrations with Netanyahu’s actions and have even suggested imposing conditions on future military aid to Israel.
However, some commentators caution against deep American involvement in the conflict, fearing that it may lead to further unnecessary wars in the Middle East. Brian Finucane, a former State Department policy adviser on military force, warns that short-term political expedience may not align with the long-term interests of the United States.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on the other hand, has been advocating for a two-state solution and believes that Israel’s integration into the region, along with the establishment of a Palestinian state, is crucial for long-term stability. However, this stance has been criticized by Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US, who believes Blinken’s comment was “tone-deaf.” Oren emphasizes that Israel will not always comply with the demands of its allies and asserts that there are limits to their cooperation.
As tensions continue to rise between the Biden administration and Netanyahu’s government, it remains to be seen how this strained relationship will impact future negotiations and efforts toward a peaceful resolution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.