The United States’ approval of a resolution at the UN pertaining to a ceasefire in Gaza led to a harsh criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, causing relations between Biden and Netanyahu to reach a wartime low on Monday.

This week, Israel’s threatened offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah prompted a senior delegation to visit Washington, but Netanyahu abruptly called off the trip after the United States abstained in a Security Council vote demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the release of all hostages held by Palestinian militants.

The postponement of the meeting presents a significant impediment to the United States’ attempts to persuade Netanyahu to explore options other than invading Rafah, the final area of safety for Palestinian civilians, due to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Longtime allies the United States and Israel are at odds over the prospect of an attack of this kind, and there are concerns that the US may cut off military support to Israel if Netanyahu defies Biden and moves forward with the plan.

Former Republican and Democratic governments’ Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller remarked, “This shows that trust between the Biden administration and Netanyahu may be breaking down.” “If the crisis is not managed carefully, it’s only going to continue to worsen.”

After months of largely upholding the long-standing American policy of defending Israel at the UN, Biden decided to abstain, which seemed to indicate rising American annoyance with the Israeli prime minister.

The president, who is seeking reelection in November, is under pressure to curtail the Israeli military response to Hamas’ catastrophic cross-border attack on October 7, which Israel claims claimed 1,200 lives. This pressure comes from both America’s friends and an increasing number of fellow Democrats.

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Netanyahu has his own domestic issues to deal with, not the least of which is the demands of his far-right coalition members for a firm stance against the Palestinians. In addition, he must persuade the relatives of the hostages that he is making every effort to secure their release despite persistent calls for his resignation.

Netanyahu said that the United States’ refusal to oppose the resolution was a “clear retreat” from its prior stance and would harm Israel’s military operations as his office announced the postponement of the visit.


Officials from the United States indicated that although there had been no change in policy, the Biden administration was confused by Israel’s move and thought it was an overreaction.

Earlier in the almost six-month-old conflict in the Gaza Strip, Washington had mainly refrained from using the phrase “ceasefire” and had defended Israel as it reacted against Hamas by using its veto power at the U.N.

But the United States refrained from calling for a ceasefire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in two weeks, as starvation looms in Gaza and international pressure for a truce in the conflict that Palestinian health officials estimate has killed over 32,000 Palestinians grows.

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According to observers, Biden and Netanyahu’s current task is to prevent their disagreements from getting out of hand.

There’s no reason this should constitute a “mortal blow” to ties, according to Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington. “So I don’t think the door is closed to anything,” he said.

On a different tour from the one Netanyahu’s delegation had previously canceled, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held high-level discussions in Washington on Monday, indicating that the two governments are still in constant contact.

However, the U.S. abstention exacerbates the growing distance between Biden and Netanyahu, who have known each other for a long time but have never had a smooth relationship.

A Rafah invasion would be a “red line,” according to Biden earlier this month in an MSNBC interview. However, he also stated that Israel’s security is “critical” and that there is no way that “I’m going to cut off all weapons so that they don’t have the Iron Dome (missile defense system) to protect them.”

Though U.S. officials believe there are no signs of an impending operation, Netanyahu rejected Biden’s criticism and pledged to continue in Rafah, the final area of the Gaza Strip where Israeli soldiers have not launched a combat invasion.

The nation’s top-ranking Jewish political figure, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, then called for fresh elections in Israel to remove Netanyahu and characterize him as a barrier to peace last week.

Biden referred to it as a “good speech.”

However, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said reporters on Wednesday that he was considering asking Netanyahu to address Congress after the Israeli leader addressed Republican senators via videolink last week. That would be interpreted as a dig at Biden, providing Netanyahu with a prominent platform to vent his complaints about the U.S. government.

According to Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who spoke to Reuters, Netanyahu seems to be collaborating with Republicans in an effort to “weaponize the U.S.-Israel relationship in favor of the right wing.”

With his 2024 reelection attempt, Biden’s options are limited. He must prevent Republicans from exploiting pro-Israel supporters’ concerns while also stemming the loss of support from progressive Democrats who are appalled by his ardent support for Israel.

Netanyahu is aware that the Israeli people, who are still extremely traumatized by the attack on October 7, would overwhelmingly favor the continuation of the war in Gaza. He is also aware that polls suggest he would be badly beaten in any election held right now.

Thus, he seems open to taking a chance to gauge Washington’s tolerance.

Even though there is a rising risk of international isolation, all members of Netanyahu’s interim unity government support extending the war until Hamas is destroyed and the hostages are released. There has also been little indication of a readiness to accommodate American demands for restraint.

Hard-right According to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, the US was not Israel’s “patron state,” but rather a partner.