Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that President Joe Biden, accused by a special counsel last week of “deficient skills,” had not shown any such problems in a dozen extended phone conversations during the war in Gaza or during a visit to Israel.
“I found him very clear and very focused,” Netanyahu said ABC's This Week. “We were able to agree on war objectives and many other things.”
Special counsel Robert Hurr announced last week that Biden would not face criminal charges Mishandling of classified documents In part he is “an old man with a failing memory.” It brought an avalanche of criticism of Biden from Republicans who say he is unfit for the presidency. Biden angrily denied the claims and accused Harr of unwarranted defamation.
Harr spoke with Biden just days after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants inside Israeli border communities that killed 1,200 people and sparked a brutal war in Gaza that sparked several exchanges between Biden and Netanyahu in the months that followed.
Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel, but relations between the two leaders have strained in recent days. Netanyahu said he expected to speak with Biden on Sunday, adding that he and Biden had not spoken since Biden said last week that Israel's Gaza campaign was “up.”
“Sometimes we had disagreements, but they weren't born out of a lack of understanding on his part or on my part,” Netanyahu said when asked if Biden had diminished mental capacity. “So I can tell you—I haven't seen it.”
∎ Netanyahu appears Fox News Sunday, defending Israel's aggressive military campaign following an onslaught by Hamas-led militias. “What would have been America's response? I would say it would have been at least as strong as Israel's,” Netanyahu said. “Many Americans say to me 'We would have flattened them, turned them to dust'.”
∎ Thousands of Moroccans demonstrated in Rabat against their country's relations with Israel and to condemn the “genocide” in Gaza. Morocco, which established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, has condemned Israel's war in Gaza as “blatant violations of international law”. Banners on Sunday read “Normalization is treason” and “Stop the carnage”.
∎ U.S The central command said Its forces successfully conducted defensive strikes against two unmanned boats and three anti-ship missiles near Yemen that were poised to be launched against ships in the Red Sea. Such attacks by Yemen-based Houthi rebels have been a regular occurrence since the war began.
Biden and his top aides are losing patience with Netanyahu and no longer see him as a productive partner willing to compromise. The Washington Post reports citing six people familiar with their discussions. Some of Biden's aides are urging him to publicly criticize Netanyahu's military operation in Gaza, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Netanyahu has clashed with US officials in recent days, quickly denouncing a hostage deal offered by Hamas, while Secretary of State Anthony Blinken worked to broker a deal with leaders in the region. Netanyahu later announced that the Israeli military planned to occupy Rafah, drawing criticism from the United States, the United Nations and several world leaders.
However, all politics is local, and any sign that Netanyahu is backing down on his pledge to crush Hamas would be disastrous for an already precarious political situation at home.
Israel says Egypt is ready to allow invasion of Rafah
Senior Egyptian officials have told Israeli leaders We will not oppose a massive military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, bordering Egypt, if Palestinian civilian casualties are avoided. The Times of Israel reported, Citing Israeli Military Radio. Cairo may criticize Israel if it launches an attack on the southern Gaza Strip, but it will not try to prevent the attack, the report said. However, Egypt has sent around 40 tanks and armored personnel carriers to northeast Sinai within the past two weeks as part of efforts to strengthen security along its Gaza border, Egyptian security sources said. told Reuters.
“Those who say we should not enter Rafah under any circumstances are basically saying to lose the war. Keep Hamas there,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.
The UN is urging Israel to release Rafa. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said last week that people in the city should be protected and not face forced displacement. Dujarric was “deeply concerned” that Israel had stepped up airstrikes in the area ahead of an expected ground invasion. UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell echoed those sentiments on Sunday, saying that Rafah, a city of fewer than 300,000 before the war, was overwhelmed as Palestinians fled south from Israeli forces to follow Hamas militants.
“Rafa is one of the most densely populated places on earth, full of children and families, some already displaced multiple times by the war in Gaza,” Russell said. Social media post. “Some 1.3 million civilians have been pushed into a corner living on the streets or in shelters. They need to be protected. There is nowhere safe for them to go.”
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