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Updated Dec 12, 2023, 2:12pm EST
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Semafor Signals

Bibi-Biden tensions grow over war in Gaza

Insights from The Times of Israel, WSJ, The Guardian

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U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks, following a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel, during a press conference in Nantucket, Massachusetts, U.S., November 26, 2023.
REUTERS/Tom Brenner
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U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Israel is starting to lose international support over indiscriminate bombing in Gaza, and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “to strengthen and change.”

While speaking at a campaign reception in Washington, Biden also said Netanyahu’s “got a tough decision to make” about the future of the conflict. He called the Netanyahu cabinet “the most conservative government in Israel’s history,” adding that it “doesn’t want a two-state solution.”

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

White House shifts tone on Israel

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Sources:  
Jacob Kornbluh, The Guardian

Biden has used similar language to criticize Netanyahu’s hardline government before, The Forward’s Jacob Kornbluh noted. But he and other top U.S. officials have slightly changed their tone about Israel’s military campaign in recent weeks. Officials including Vice President Kamala Harris have started issuing ”blunt invocations of international law and the need to limit civilian casualties to a minimum” in Gaza, Robert Tait writes, but he argued that it won’t mean much if the U.S. doesn’t also make a substantive policy shift.

Biden-Bibi disagree over postwar plan

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Sources:  
WSJ, The Times of Israel

Biden’s comments came as Netanyahu pushed back against the U.S.‘s postwar plan to have Gaza ruled by the Palestinian Authority, a sign of growing tensions and disagreements between the two leaders. As Netanyahu heightens his rhetoric against the Palestinian Authority, the Biden administration has become increasingly convinced that the prime minister has entered “campaign mode” and is prioritizing politics over security interests, two U.S. officials told The Times of Israel.

Netanyahu’s stock is down in Washington

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Sources:  
Business Insider, The Jerusalem Post

Biden’s remarks come as Congress mulls an aid package that would send $14 billion to Israel, plus billions to Ukraine and Taiwan. Republicans have said they will only support the foreign aid if U.S. border protections are also part of the deal, while some Democrats have openly discussed making Israel funds conditional amid the rising death toll in Gaza. Those restrictions are unlikely to be tied to the final aid package, but Netanyahu shouldn’t take that as an endorsement, a prominent pro-Israel lobbyist argued in The Jerusalem Post. ”His stock is down and failing.”

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