US President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “bad fucking guy” amid tensions between the two leaders over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to a report Sunday.
Politico cited White House officials on Biden’s support for Israel in the war against Hamas and the political backlash from some in his party and among voters. Some Biden administration events have been disrupted by protesters calling for a ceasefire.
Biden has grown suspicious of Netanyahu as the war, triggered by Hamas’s October 7 massacre, finished its fourth month, and has privately called him a “bad fucking guy,” the report said, citing unnamed sources who have spoken to the president.
Andrew Bates, Biden’s spokesperson, told Politico that “the president did not say that, nor would he,” noting the two leaders’ “decades-long relationship that is respectful in public and in private.”
Since Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, the Biden administration has fast-tracked the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of munitions to Israel, bypassing congressional review.
At the same time as it has provided Israel with weapons and diplomatic backing in its war against Hamas, the White House has also pushed Jerusalem to allow more aid to reach Gazans and is reportedly weighing the use of weapons supplies as leverage to pressure Israel to reduce the intensity of its operations in the Gaza Strip.
White House officials and Netanyahu have also clashed in recent weeks over the possibility of a Palestinian state as part of a regional agreement that would include Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization.
According to the report, some Democrats, particularly Vice President Kamala Harris, have begun to realize the administration’s support for Israel in the war could cost them key support for the 2024 election among young voters, some of whom may vote for a third party and ultimately give Republican frontrunner Donald Trump an advantage.
Strikingly, a YouGov survey recently found that 50 percent of respondents identifying as Biden voters described Israel’s offensive as “a genocide.”
Harris has voiced her concern privately to Democrats outside the White House and is advocating for more support for Gazan civilians, people familiar with the conversations told Politico.
According to White House officials, Biden consciously referred to those “held hostage or under bombardment or displaced” and condemned hatred toward Arab Americans in remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast last week before his trip to Michigan, which boasts the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States.
At the same time, he published an executive order sanctioning extremist settlers for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
Lawmakers in Congress have also become frustrated by Netanyahu and the war.
A House Democrat recounted to Politico a dinner conversation among a diverse group of Democrats that occurred last month. “It was unanimous that this [Israel-Hamas] war needed to end now and that Biden needed to stand up to Bibi,” he said, using Netanyahu’s nickname.
“This is a disaster politically,” the congressman opined.
“The base is really pissed — and it’s not just the leftists. I have never seen such a depth of anguish as I’ve seen over this Gaza issue. Bibi is toxic among many Democratic voters and Biden must distance himself from him — yesterday,” he added.
Sen. John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat, warned young voters that supporting a third-party candidate could hand Trump the election. The GOP rival would likely be less hands-on than Biden with Netanyahu, allowing him greater freedom in continuing the war, he told Politico.
“If you sit this out, or throw your vote away, you now are effectively empowering Bibi, and you’re definitely going to be empowering Trump,” he said, describing the effect that third-party voters had on the 2016 election when the controversial GOP candidate won a term in office.
“I said the same thing in 2016 to voters, I said: ‘Hey, you know what, you don’t like Clinton, you know what fuck around and find out what Trump is going to be about and, hey guess what, how’d you like it?’” he added.
“People don’t understand how few votes [the third-party candidates] would need to take away,” said Lis Smith, a Democratic political consultant. “It’s the whole election.”
Lazar Berman contributed to this report.