United States (US) president Joe Biden has said Israel is starting to lose global support over its “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza.
His comments, made to donors at a fundraising event on Tuesday, marked his strongest criticism yet of Israel’s leadership.
Biden has offered unwavering public support to the country since Hamas launched its attacks on 7 October.
And while he reiterated that Israel could count on US backing, he issued a direct warning to its government.
“Israel’s security can rest on the United States, but right now it has more than the United States. It has the European Union, it has Europe, it has most of the world,” he told donors to his 2024 re-election campaign in Washington.
“But they’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place,” he said.
Biden, however, added that there was “no question about the need to take on Hamas” and Israel had “every right” to do so.
The US leader has faced growing pressure, including from within his own Democratic Party, to rein in Israel’s military campaign.
His remarks align with his administration’s recent approach to the war, with officials urging Israel to “put a premium on human life” and give clearer instructions to allow people to avoid the conflict.
Senior US officials have also displayed increasing discontent at Israel’s military response.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has said more than 18 400 people have been killed by Israeli bombing since 7 October, when Hamas broke through Israel’s heavily guarded perimeter and killed 1 200 people.
In a statement later on Tuesday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had received the “full backing” of the US for its ground war, as well as its goal of destroying Hamas and recovering hostages.
He added that Washington had blocked “international pressure to stop the war”.
“Yes, there is disagreement about ‘the day after Hamas’, and I hope that we will reach [an] agreement here as well,” he said.
Biden alluded to the pair’s disagreement in his comments on Tuesday and said Netanyahu had to “change” his government as well as his stance on a two-state solution, which top US officials have been promoting as the post-war path.
That proposal is favoured by the international community to end the decades-long conflict, and would lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank existing alongside Israel.
“This is the most conservative government in Israel’s history,” Biden said.
This government in Israel is making it very difficult for him. They don’t want a two-state solution.
His comments reflect the emerging disagreements about what direction to take after the war.
Netanyahu has said he opposes US calls to have the Palestinian Authority, which currently administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, take over control of Gaza.
While Biden’s words were his bluntest yet, senior American officials have increasingly expressed discontent with Israel’s military campaign.
Secretary of state Antony Blinken said just days ago that there was a “gap” between pledges by Israeli authorities to spare civilians in Gaza and the reality on the ground. – BBC
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