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Mar 11, 2024, 6:10pm EDT
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Tensions flare between Biden and Netanyahu over Gaza

Insights from New York Magazine, Axios, and NPR

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U.S. President Joe Biden attends a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, 2023.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
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The News

Tensions between U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spilled out into the open this weekend, as talks on a ceasefire in Gaza failed to reach an agreement before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began.

Speaking to MSNBC Saturday, Biden said he believed Netanyahu’s conduct in the war — including what he called the Israeli leader’s disregard for the “innocent lives being lost” — was “hurting Israel more than helping Israel.”

Netanyahu dismissed Biden’s concerns in a Sunday interview with Politico, saying the president was “wrong on both counts” and his only personal “red line is that October 7 doesn’t happen again.”

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The White House has sharpened its criticism of Bibi

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Sources:  
Reuters, New York Magazine

The White House has recently sharpened its criticism of Netanyahu’s conduct and signaled a desire to sideline the prime minister. After Thursday’s State of the Union address, in which Biden pointedly criticized Israel, he was caught on a hot mic saying he’d told Bibi they were about to have a “come to Jesus meeting.”

Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, told New York Magazine that the White House has been unhappy with Netanyahu for a long time, “but now in my view they’re even angrier and they are sharpening the tone. Biden is not coming at him personally, but off the record and in closed meetings, the sentiment is clear.”

Biden threads the needle between Netanyahu and Israel as a whole

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Sources:  
Axios, MSNBC, The Washington Post

Biden, as Axios noted, now has the tricky task of expressing his displeasure with Netanyahu while maintaining his support for Israel. U.S. officials told the publication that Biden and top officials at the State Department are “extremely frustrated by what they see as ungratefulness by Netanyahu.” But Biden said in his Saturday interview that he’s “never gonna leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical.”

Some of Biden’s aides have argued that the U.S. president should criticize Netanyahu even more forcefully in public, telling The Washington Post that such a route would “allow him to distance himself from an unpopular leader and his scorched-earth policies while reiterating his long-standing support for Israel itself.”

War casts shadow over Ramadan for Muslims worldwide

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Sources:  
CBS News, NPR

As Muslims around the world began marking Ramadan on Monday, the start of the Islamic holy month raised fears of a possible escalation in the five-month long Israel-Hamas war, CBS News reported.

While Ramadan marks a period of prayer and fasting, it has in the past seen heightened violence in Jerusalem — a deeply holy city for Muslims as well as Jews — with clashes over Israel’s moves to restrict access to Islamic holy sites.

For many, this year’s Ramadan will be unusually somber, with many feeling unable to truly celebrate.

“It’s not like any other Ramadans that I’ve lived through and I’ve lived through tough Ramadans before,” a Palestinian woman who lived through the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War told NPR.

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