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Israel-Hamas War

Biden Issues Warning To Netanyahu Amid Tension Over Rafh Invasion

The call between Biden and Netanyahu was the first since Feb. 15.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Monday against carrying out a planned military operation in Rafah.

“Our position is that Hamas should not be allowed a safe haven in Rafah or anywhere else, but a major ground operation there would be a mistake,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at the White House press briefing.

The call between Biden and Netanyahu was the first since Feb. 15 as the two leaders discussed the prospects of a weekslong cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas that would involve the release of hostages.

“We would look to build on that cease-fire into something more enduring and use the space created by a cessation of hostilities to surge humanitarian assistance at a vital moment,” Sullivan said. “So far, this deal has been more elusive than we would have hoped.”

The White House said Israel has made “significant progress” battling Hamas in its military operations in Gaza but added the effect on innocent Palestinians “has been devastating.”

“The president has repeatedly made the point that continuing military operations need to be connected to a clear strategic end game,” Sullivan said. “The president told the prime minister again today that we share the goal of defeating Hamas, but we just believe you need a coherent and sustainable strategy to make that happen.”

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The White House said that Biden “stressed the urgent need to significantly increase the flow of lifesaving aid reaching those in need throughout Gaza, with special emphasis on the north.”

Last week, Netanyahu’s office said that he had approved plans for a ground offensive in Rafah as Netanyahu said he was ignoring Biden’s “red line” and would move forward with his plans despite the warnings from the President.

“There’s no red line where I would cut off all weapons so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them. But there’s red lines where if he crosses them … he cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead,” Biden said, referring to Netanyahu.

The White House is considering how to respond if the Israeli government ignores the administration’s warnings but has not yet said what that would be.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Israeli Prime Minister “lost his way” and called for new elections to replace him.

I think what he said is totally inappropriate,” Netanyahu said of Schumer’s comments. “It’s inappropriate to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That’s something that Israel, the Israeli public does on its own, and we’re not a banana republic.”

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“On the call today, President Biden asked the Prime Minister to send a senior interagency team, composed of military, intelligence, and humanitarian officials, to Washington in the coming days to hear U.S. concerns about Israel’s current Rafah planning,” Sullivan said

“Send your team to Washington,” Sullivan added. “Let’s talk about it. We’ll lay out for you what we believe is a better way.”

Stephen Anderson
Written By

Stephen Michael is a Political Correspondent based in the United States. He has reached a global audience with his coverage of the 2020 Election and Trump White House. Michael joins Forward Axis News after spending time with the Project Spurs Network since 2014 and covering reality TV in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

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