Israel leader has infuriated the US president over plans for military operation in Rafah with relationship becoming increasingly frayed
: AP/Andrew Harnik
Joe Biden is growing increasingly irritated with Benjamin Netanyahu, who he is understood to have called an “a--hole” several times in private.
Amid mounting frustration with the Israeli leader, the US president is believed to be edging closer to a public breach with Mr Netanyahu in a bid to distance himself from the unpopular prime minister.
Mr Netanyahu has infuriated the Biden administration in recent days by announcing, despite US opposition, plans for a military operation in Rafah, where around 1.4 million Palestinians are believed to be sheltering.
Mr Biden had warned Mr Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday that he believes “a military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan” for civilians.
Mr Netanyahu further inflamed tensions by denouncing a hostage deal while Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, was in the region trying to broker an agreement.
‘I love you, even if I can’t stand you’
Mr Biden has been reluctant to criticise Mr Netanyahu, who he has known for four decades, but on Thursday he made his spikiest remark yet when he called Israel’s assault in Gaza “over the top”.
Mr Biden reportedly told his Israeli counterpart: “I love you, Bibi, even if I can’t stand you.”
In private, the US president has reportedly gone further, having referred to Mr Netanyahu as an “a--hole” at least three times and claimed he is the main obstacle to a ceasefire, according to NBC News.
Suggesting their relationship could be nearing an inflection point, Mr Biden has not refrained from making disparaging remarks in front of campaign donors.
Mr Biden has referred to Mr Netanyahu as “this guy”, said he is “giving him hell” and is impossible to deal with, sources said.
“He just feels like this is enough,” one source said. “It has to stop.”
Speaking to a small group of donors at a fundraiser recently, Mr Biden reportedly said Mr Netanyahu has “been a pain in my a-- lately” or “he’s been killing me lately”.
It comes as White House aides are understood to have been urging Mr Biden to be more critical of his Israeli counterpart, according to the Washington Post.
Mr Biden, who is a staunch supporter of Israel, has been reluctant to make his frustrations public so far but is said to be coming round to the idea.
It comes as an Israeli special forces rescue operation in the early hours of Monday morning freed two Israeli-Argentine hostages held by Hamas militants in Rafah, with the supporting airstrikes killing 67 people.
‘I’m not ruling anything out’
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