Biden slams Netanyahu’s handling of Gaza as a ‘mistake’

President Joe Biden offered one of his sharpest rebukes of Israel’s handling of the war in Gaza during an interview airing Tuesday, describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to the conflict as a “mistake” and calling for a halt to the fighting.

“Well, I will tell you, I think what he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach,” Biden told Univision, in an interview taped just days after Israeli military strikes killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, sparking anger and frustration throughout the White House.

“I think it’s outrageous that those four, three vehicles were hit by drones and taken out on a highway where it wasn’t like it was along the shore, it wasn’t like there was a convoy moving there,” he continued, according to a Univision transcript of the interview.

 

It marked one of his most forceful critiques against how Netanyahu’s government is waging its war against Hamas. The president added that he’s calling for Israel to agree to a ceasefire and that there is “no excuse” for not sending in humanitarian aid.

“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. I’ve spoken with everyone from the Saudis to the Jordanians to the Egyptians. They’re prepared to move in. They’re prepared to move this food in. And I think there’s no excuse to not provide for the medical and the food needs of those people. It should be done now,” Biden said in the interview.

The comments came in the lead up to CIA Director Bill Burns delivering a new proposal over the weekend to negotiators in Cairo as they work to secure a ceasefire and hostage deal. Speaking Tuesday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Hamas has not yet provided a response. Sullivan said he’d asked the prime minister of Qatar, which has acted as a mediator in the ongoing talks, to press the group for a quick response to a proposal that would secure the release of hostages.

“He does not yet have an answer from Hamas,” Sullivan said. “I pressed him to try to secure an answer from them as soon as possible.”

He said the White House had seen comments from Hamas casting doubt on an agreement on the latest proposal.

“We have seen Israel take some steps forward in terms of what they’re putting on the table. And, of course, we’ve seen the public statements from Hamas that have been, shall we say, less than encouraging,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House.

Elsewhere in the Univision interview, Biden called former President Donald Trump the biggest threat to democracy in the United States, citing his predecessor’s actions during the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot and his calls to release from prison those involved in the attack.

Asked what constitutes “the primary threat to freedom and democracy at home,” Biden answered bluntly: “Donald Trump.”

“Donald Trump talks, uses phrases like you’re gonna – eviscerate the Constitution, he’s going to be a dictator on day one. The idea that he would sit in the office – and I’ll show you before you leave – off the Oval Office and watch for hours the attack on the Capitol, and the destruction and the mayhem and people were killed, the police officers who died, and call them political heroes, to call them patriots, and say that if he gets elected he’s going to free them all, because they’re being held illegally?” Biden said in the interview with Univision, which was taped at the White House last week.

“And think of the things he says, look at the way he talks about minority populations, Hispanics, talking about them being — anyway. It’s just, I can’t think of any other time in my lifetime, in history that’s occurred, that you’ve had somebody that had this kind of attitude,” Biden continued. “He says he’s going to be a dictator on day one? No one doesn’t believe him.”

The rare sit-down interview is set to air on the Spanish-language network Tuesday evening. Biden has sought to make issues of democracy central to his reelection campaign as he draws a contrast with Trump.

Both Trump and Biden have used the events on January 6 to make their case to voters. Trump has opened his rallies with a recording of January 6 prisoners singing the national anthem and calls the rioters “people who love our country” and “hostages unfairly imprisoned for long periods of time.”

Biden has long argued Trump’s return to the White House would amount to a grave threat to democracy, and images from January 6 opened the video announcing his reelection plans a year ago. He’s also delivered several speeches on the topic, including on the third anniversary of the Capitol riot earlier this year.

Preserving democracy was also a central theme of Biden’s 2020 campaign, and his aides have said they expect it to be a main feature of his reelection effort.

Trump has been indicted on felony charges for working to overturn the results of the 2020 election ahead of the January 6 riot. He pleaded not guilty.

In remarks at fundraisers, Biden has voiced outrage that Trump reportedly watched the January 6 attack on television from the dining room off the Oval Office, refusing aides’ entreaties to deliver a statement denouncing the violence.

He’s similarly issued warnings about Trump’s rhetoric heading into this year’s election, including comments last month about a “bloodbath” should Biden win a second term.

“Trump says if he loses again in November there will be a bloodbath. What the hell’s wrong with this guy?” Biden asked at a fundraiser in late March.

Reported by CNN

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