by Naharnet Newsdesk
U.S. President Joe Biden has been venting his “frustration” in recent private conversations, some of them with campaign donors, over his “inability to persuade Israel to change its military tactics in the Gaza Strip,” and he has named Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the “primary obstacle,” five people directly familiar with his comments told NBC News.
Biden has said he is trying to get Israel to agree to a cease-fire, but Netanyahu is “giving him hell” and is impossible to deal with, said the people familiar with Biden’s comments, who all asked not to be named.
“He just feels like this is enough,” one of the people said of the views expressed by Biden. “It has to stop.”
Biden has in recent weeks spoken privately about Netanyahu, a leader he has known for decades, with a candor that has surprised some of those on the receiving end of his comments, people familiar with them said. His descriptions of his dealings with Netanyahu are peppered with contemptuous references to Netanyahu as “this guy,” these people said. And in at least three recent instances, Biden has called Netanyahu an “asshole,” according to three of the people directly familiar with his comments.
On Sunday, Biden told Netanyahu in a phone call that he believes “a military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan” for protecting and supporting the Palestinians sheltering there, the White House said in a statement.
The bulk of their 45-minute conversation focused on a long-discussed but repeatedly delayed agreement between Israel and Hamas to free hostages being held in Gaza in exchange for a pause in military operations and the release of Palestinian prisoners, according to the White House.
Biden took a notably sharper tone Thursday and described Israel’s military assault in Gaza as “over the top.”