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Biden Levies Strongest Criticism of Israel Yet as He Continues to Fund Genocide

“I don’t agree with [Netanyahu’s] approach,” Biden said, after months of granting full U.S. support to the genocide.

President Joe Biden (left) meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023.

In a tepid condemnation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s genocidal assault of Gaza, President Joe Biden said in an interview that aired Tuesday that Netanyahu’s approach is a “mistake” — even as he has refused to make changes to U.S. policy or the unconditional arms transfers that Israel is using to slaughter Palestinians.

“I think what he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach,” Biden said on Univision. He specifically condemned Israel’s airstrike that killed seven international aid workers with World Central Kitchen last week, which occurred shortly after the Biden administration approved yet another sale of thousands of bombs to Israel.

Biden — who has been under intense pressure for months from large swaths of his base who are demanding that he withdraw his staunch support of Israel — went on to call for a temporary pause in fighting. He coopted activists’ language of a “ceasefire” to call for a far weaker proposal that will allow Israel to continue its genocide at a later date.

“What I’m calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a ceasefire, allow for the next six, eight weeks total access to all food and medicine going into the country,” he said. “I think there’s no excuse to not provide for the medical and the food needs of those people. It should be done now.”

The president failed to mention that it is his diplomatic and military policies that are enabling Israel to continue its bombings of Gaza and blockade of humanitarian aid. Though Biden has mildly shifted his tone in public statements toward Israel, he has refused to implement any policy that could put a stop to the genocide, like ending the administration’s arms transfers to Israel or even putting conditions on how those weapons can be used to be in accordance with U.S. law.

The fact that Biden is shifting his rhetoric on Gaza while continuing to support Israel unconditionally suggests that the president is not necessarily concerned about the 34,000 Palestinians who Israel has killed so far, but rather about shaping his public image and reelection chances. In fact, his simultaneous condemnation of the humanitarian crisis and approval of arms shipments to Israel could suggest that Biden actually supports the continuation of the genocide.

This is demonstrated by the fact that his administration has been enthusiastically approving arms shipments to Israel while specifically keeping these sales under certain value thresholds in attempts to hide them from the public. Last month, a Washington Post report found that, in the first 150 days of Israel’s current assault, the administration had secretly approved over 100 arms shipments to Israel under emergency powers invoked by Biden to allow these shipments to take place without approval from Congress or public disclosure.

Meanwhile, Biden’s public comments about Israel have not changed the fact that his policy of refusing to draw red lines for Israeli forces has stifled chances of his administration taking actions that may slow or put an end to the genocide. Multiple reports citing officials within or familiar with the administration have repeatedly found that Biden is actively repressing proper documentation of conditions imposed on Palestinians in Gaza due to his unconditional support of Israel.

At the same time, Biden is likely highly aware of the impact he has on Israel’s ability to continue its assault. Last week, after a phone call between Biden and Netanyahu in which Biden raised alarm over the killing of the World Central Kitchen workers, Israel announced that it is opening some humanitarian aid routes it had previously blockaded and touted a small increase in aid entering the region.

That increase is not nearly enough to stem the famine campaign that Israel has imposed on Palestinians, when compared to the amount of aid that humanitarian groups say needs to enter the region, but it is a show that Biden has the power to save countless lives in Gaza — and is actively choosing to let Palestinians die instead.

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