Biden called Netanyahu ‘asshole’ in private amid frustration over Gaza policy – report

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

US President Joe Biden (left) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)
US President Joe Biden (left) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Amid reports of growing frustration in the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, NBC News reports that US President Joe Biden has been expressing his exasperation in private conversations, but is not about to make any major change in policy.

Citing “five people directly familiar with his comments,” the report says that Biden expressed frustration to people, including campaign donors, over his “inability to persuade Israel to change its military tactics in Gaza.”

The US president also called Netanyahu an “asshole” in at least three recent instances, according to three of the anonymous sources.

“He just feels like this is enough,” one of the sources tells NBC. “It has to stop.”

Biden is also flummoxed by Netanyahu’s rejection of deals that the US president thinks are a win for Israel, like Saudi normalization in exchange for a political pathway toward a Palestinian state.

The US president reportedly also says he is trying to get Israel to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas, but Netanyahu is “giving him hell.”

Biden, the report says, thinks that Netanyahu wants to extend the war to stay in power.

The sources also say that Biden thinks it would be counterproductive to be too critical of Netanyahu in public.

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