On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden essentially issued an ultimatum to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: either safeguard Gaza’s civilian population and international humanitarian workers, or Washington may withhold its backing for Israel’s military campaign against Hamas terrorists.

The letter came following an Israeli attack that killed seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) relief workers and incited international indignation, and came months after the United States demanded that Israel alter its war methods that have murdered tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Israel concedes that the attack was erroneous.

The White House remained reticent about the precise actions it expected Netanyahu to take or what it would do in the event that he did not. However, experts said that the underlying threat was to reduce American support at the UN or to halt weaponry deliveries to Israel.

Referring to Biden’s statement from last month that he and Netanyahu were headed for such a turning point, “this is as close to a ‘come to Jesus’ moment as you can get,” said analyst Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

Veteran American diplomat Dennis Ross, who is currently employed at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stated: “The president is essentially saying that if these humanitarian needs are not met, I will be forced to condition (military) assistance.”

Up for reelection in November, Biden has found it difficult to strike a balance between the danger of upsetting primarily pro-Israel independent voters and the demand to reign in Netanyahu from progressive Democrats appalled at the number of Palestinian civilian deaths. So far, he has refused to impose restrictions on the transfer of weapons.

After Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli estimates, the war broke out. Israel invaded the region, destroying much of its densely populated area and uprooting the majority of its 2.3 million inhabitants.

The health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, reports that over 33,000 Palestinians have passed away, the most of whom being women and children. Israel charges Hamas with utilizing people as human shields.

Biden urged Israel “to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers,” according to a White House statement describing their request.

The White House said in a statement, “He made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

More direct was U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Look, I’ll just say this: if we don’t see the changes that we need to see, there will be changes in our policy.”

The Israeli administration opened the Ashdod port and the Erez gate into northern Gaza on Thursday night, mere hours after the call, and increased humanitarian delivery from Jordan, among other measures to enhance relief flows to Gaza. It was unclear if the actions would be sufficient to meet American demands.


The horrific Israeli attack on the employees of famous chef Jose Andres’ WCK charity organization on Monday marked a turning point for Biden, an avid backer of Israel.

It happened at the same time as the Biden administration increased its pressure on Israel to think of alternatives to a ground offensive that was being threatened in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which is the last reasonably secure shelter for civilians in the coastal enclave.

Under the condition of anonymity, a person acquainted with the discussions claimed that the 30-minute conversation was occasionally heated, with Biden expressing his worries and Netanyahu justifying his strategy over Gaza.

A senior White House source described the discussion as “very direct, very straightforward,” adding that Blinken, Vice President Kamala Harris, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan were all there.

The official stated, “We need a comprehensive plan on them doing a much better job here,” when asked what the US expected. They cannot be murdering civilians and humanitarian relief workers.”

Biden may have finally reached his limit, despite the fact that he has long avoided reducing US assistance for Israel.

Mike Singh, a former National Security Council official on the Middle East, said, “There was always going to be a point at which the Biden administration felt that the domestic and international cost of supporting Israel’s campaign in Gaza outweighed the benefit of what Israel was able to achieve on the ground.”

“What is remarkable is not that this is happening but that it took so long.”

Singh, who is currently at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stated that the United States would probably negotiate a U.N. Security Council resolution similar to the one that resolved the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006 if Israel failed to meet Biden’s demands.

“Placing conditions on arms transfers is more fraught politically, would likely face stiff opposition on (Capitol) Hill, and could leave Israel vulnerable to attack by Hezbollah or other Iranian proxies,” he stated.

However, last month, after declaring that a Rafah invasion would be a “red line,” Biden may have hinted at his thoughts when he declared that he would never cut off “all weapons so that they don’t have the Iron Dome (missile defense system) to protect them.”

Although he did not state this clearly, there were rumors that he may place restrictions on the delivery of armaments to Israel, which is largely dependent on American weaponry, if he made such promises on offensive weapons.

Former deputy national intelligence officer for the Middle East Jonathan Panikoff said that Biden would not make a dramatic move to sever U.S.-Israeli connections, including refusing to give up expensive weaponry or dumping Israel entirely at the U.N.

However, he might impose restrictions on more modest military hardware and take more action against radical Jewish settlers who are attacking Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

“Biden’s frustration with how the war is being conducted, and with Prime Minister Netanyahu himself, has reached an apex,” Panikoff stated.