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Washington Post Reviews Biden's Attempt To Manage Netanyahu

Netanyahu (left) tried to pressure Biden. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)

Prior to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s video outbursts today and yesterday—in which he said “We are continuing the war to the end. It will continue until Hamas is eliminated—until victory. Whoever thinks that we will stop is detached from reality” and that “And after we eliminate Hamas, I will use all my power to ensure that Gaza never again threatens Israel—neither Hamastan nor Fatahstan,” today’s Washington Post compiled an account of the recent turbulent dealings between President Joe Biden and Netanyahu. Portions of their lengthy account follow:

First, shortly after Oct. 7, Netanyahu tried to get Biden to pressure Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to take most of the 2.2 million Gaza Palestinians into the Sinai. Biden said that it was a non-starter with Egypt. Netanyahu weighed in on other heads of state after failing with Biden. (Of course, this would mean that Washington has known all along that Netanyahu’s plan was to depopulate Gaza.) Biden thinks he can counter Netanyahu by insisting that the Palestinian Authority (PA) be part of the governance, of course after Netanyahu finishes with his extermination of Hamas. Netanyahu raises the ante, as Israel moots hitting Lebanon next.

The Washington Post turned to former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, later represented Obama’s U.S. in the failed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, to explain: U.S. officials “insist that Gaza must be under Palestinian rule in a way that connects governance in the West Bank with Gaza. There’s only one legally constituted candidate for this job: the Palestinian Authority. … Bibi [Netanyahu] rejects this idea out of hand, because his coalition partners are intent on doing away with the Palestinian Authority. They want to annex the West Bank rather than have the Palestinian Authority govern there, so they don’t want it resurrected via a new role in governing Gaza.”

Then there was Biden’s effort to separate Netanyahu from the problematic coalition partners in his cabinet, the gang run by Finance Minister Belalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. Biden is quoted saying that Netanyahu’s “a good friend, but I think he has to change and—with this government, this government in Israel is making it very difficult for him to move. But we have to make sure that—that Bibi understands that he’s got to make some moves to strengthen [the Palestinian Authority]—strengthen it, change it, move it. You cannot say there’s no Palestinian state at all in the future. And that’s going to be the hard part.”

Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), a close ally of Biden, is cited as calling Netanyahu “an exceptionally difficult partner…. This isn’t new. The prime minister has had this position, and has done things to prevent or make more difficult a two-state solution, for a long time. So when he talks about that, he’s actually describing his known record.”

The Post explained that Netanyahu toned down matters early on, when he was solicitous of U.S. backing for his military activity; but after Biden got entangled in Netanyahu’s doing, he sent a more aggressive message in Biden’s direction as to how things would proceed. The Washington Post cited Netanyahu’s Dec. 16 news conference in Tel Aviv, at which the Post writes that he boasted “about his longtime efforts to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and took credit for ‘putting the brakes’ on the historic Oslo peace process brokered by President Bill Clinton. ‘I’m proud that I prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state, because today everybody understands what that Palestine state could have been, now that we’ve seen the little Palestinian state in Gaza.’”

There’s more, but it’s become clear to almost everyone outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. that Netanyahu is not about to be managed. He is a bully that has taken Israel hostage and is adding in the U.S.. In Washington, the combination of political gutlessness and self-deluded fantasies that stand in the way of a simple phone call, one telling Netanyahu that it is over—no money, no weapons—is a combination neither Gaza, the United States, nor Israel can afford.