By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation
President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Jan.19 that he will not support Israel’s counteroffensive lasting for a year, Axios reported Friday.
Biden told Netanyahu during a phone call that Israel needs to quickly start limiting the scope of its counteroffensive against Hamas and expressed confusion over the country’s plans for a post-war Gaza, two U.S. officials told Axios. Biden and Netanyahu’s relationship has recently become increasingly strained as the two disagree on several matters related to Israel’s current and planned operations in Gaza.
The White House is reportedly concerned that the Israel-Hamas war is commanding the news cycle ahead of the U.S. elections in November, a Biden advisor told Axios. Pressure has grown from within Biden’s young voting bloc to call for a ceasefire and end the war.
Biden and Netanyahu spent almost an hour on Jan.19 discussing the timeline for Israel to start limiting its counteroffensive, one U.S. official told Axios. Netanyahu previously said the counteroffensive would go on for “many, many months,” which Biden addressed during their phone call.
Netanyahu told Biden that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have reduced operations in northern Gaza but need more time than expected to do so in the southern region, the officials told Axios. He added that Hamas would regain control of the region if the IDF ceased its operations now.
The two world leaders also discussed the problem of getting roughly 130 hostages in Hamas control out of Gaza, a source with inside knowledge of the call told Axios. Israel most recently offered Hamas a two-month ceasefire in exchange for the remaining hostages, but Hamas’ opinion of the offer appears unclear.
CIA Director Bill Burns is set to meet next week with Qatari and Egyptian negotiators to discuss a hostage release plan, according to Axios. Biden’s special Middle East advisor Brett McGurk held similar talks in Qatar and Eygpt this week.
Biden has said he has historically had a complicated relationship with Netanyahu but it has recently become more troubled amid disagreements over Israel’s current affairs, according to Reuters. Biden abruptly hung up the phone on Netanyahu in December after telling him the “conversation is over” amid disagreements.
Biden recently recalled a story during a speech in December in which he effectively told Netanyahu he didn’t agree “with a damn thing” he had to say.
The White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.