Netanyahu’s AIPAC speech highlights growing friction with Biden

‘I deeply appreciate it, the support we've received from President Biden and the administration and I hope it will continue,’ Netanyahu said. ‘But let me be clear — Israel will win this war no matter what.'


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on September 27, 2023.

A video address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an AIPAC leadership summit in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday highlighted the growing divide between the Israeli leader and President Joe Biden over the future of Israel’s operations in Gaza.

“I deeply appreciate it, the support we’ve received from President Biden and the administration and I hope it will continue,” Netanyahu said. “But let me be clear — Israel will win this war no matter what.”

The prime minister’s comments come amid reports in Washington that the administration is considering conditioning or cutting off aid to Israel if it pursues a Rafah offensive. 

Netanyahu, in his remarks, said that Israel “must destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah,” or the terrorist organization will retake Gaza and return to the pre-Oct. 7 status quo “that we cannot accept.”

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that the U.S. cannot support a Rafah offensive that doesn’t protect civilians, “cuts off the main arteries” for aid and “places enormous pressure on the Egypt border.” Netanyahu said in his remarks that Israel’s Rafah operation will allow “the civilian population to get out of harm’s way.”

Netanyahu decried “our friends in the international community” who purport to support Israel and oppose Hamas, but oppose Israeli operations to defend itself and blame Israel for civilian casualties that Hamas has sought to orchestrate.

He said Israel is being held to “a standard for avoiding civilian casualties that no other country on earth is held to,” which, he added, is “wrong and immoral.” But he insisted that international pressure will not stop Israel’s pursuit of “total victory,” which “is within reach.”

Netanyahu said that he believes “the overwhelming majority” of the American people and Congress stand with Israel. He made similar comments over the weekend, citing recent polling indicating widespread support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

Netanyahu’s speech came a day after the U.S. intelligence community released a public report describing Israel’s governing coalition as “in jeopardy” and declaring that “a different, more moderate government” is “a possibility.”

The Israeli prime minister emphasized that “the people of Israel overwhelmingly support the policies set forth by myself and my government,” “overwhelmingly support the need for total victory,” “overwhelmingly oppose the idea of having a Palestinian state rammed down our throat” and oppose the idea of placing the Palestinian Authority in charge of Gaza at the end of the war.

A senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem further escalated the Netanyahu-Biden war of words in response to the intelligence report.

“The prime minister of Israel is chosen by the citizens of Israel and no one else,” the diplomatic source said. “Israel is not a protectorate of the U.S. Rather, it is an independent and democratic state whose citizens choose its government. We expect our friends to act to bring down Hamas and not [to bring down] the elected government of Israel.”

Jewish Insider’s senior political correspondent Lahav Harkov contributed reporting.

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