Dispute Over Gaza War Heats Up Between Biden and Netanyahu

The Israeli prime minister rejected a rebuke from the U.S. president over the scale of the Israel assault.

A boy standing at the base of a badly damaged building,
Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Sunday.Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A day after President Biden asserted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “hurting Israel more than helping Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu dismissed that contention as “wrong,” escalating the leaders’ increasingly public dispute.

Mr. Netanyahu, in an interview with Politico that was to be aired on Sunday night, challenged Mr. Biden’s assessment of Israel’s military strategy in the Gaza Strip, saying that his policies represented the “overwhelming majority” of Israelis.

“I don’t know exactly what the president meant, but if he meant by that that I’m pursuing private policies against the majority, the wish of the majority of Israelis, and that this is hurting the interests of Israel, then he’s wrong on both counts,” Mr. Netanyahu told Politico. An excerpt from the interview was released by the prime minister’s office.

The Israeli leader was responding to comments Mr. Biden made on Saturday in an interview with MSNBC that was also to be aired on Sunday night. Mr. Biden rebuked Mr. Netanyahu over the rising civilian death toll in Gaza, even as he reaffirmed American support for Israel.

“He has a right to defend Israel, a right to continue to pursue Hamas, but he must, he must, he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken,” Mr. Biden said.

“In my view, he’s hurting Israel more than helping Israel,” Mr. Biden said, appearing to refer to Mr. Netanyahu’s military strategy. “It’s contrary to what Israel stands for, and I think it’s a big mistake. So I want to see a cease-fire.”

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