Netanyahu defiant after Biden warning on arms supplies to Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, in Jerusalem, May 6. Reuters-Yonhap

U.S. President Joe Biden’s warning to Israel that he could withhold some arms supplies has shaken Israelis used to relying on their main ally at a time when the country faces widening political splits and growing isolation over the war in Gaza.Biden threatened to halt supplies of bombs and artillery shells, Wednesay, if Israeli forces go ahead with a full-scale assault on the southern Gazan city of Rafah, which is packed with Palestinians uprooted by Israel’s war on Hamas.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wartime coalition have reacted defiantly, saying Israel will press ahead with its campaign to dismantle the Palestinian militant group as Israeli tanks mass on the eastern edge of Rafah.Opinion polls show most Israelis blame Netanyahu for the security failures when Hamas gunmen rampaged through Israeli communities around Gaza, Oct. 7, and would vote him out if there were an election, but many also say the war must continue.”There are some things that we have to sometimes make a decision and say, even without the support of our allies or the support of other countries, it has to be done because we have to protect our citizens,” said Danny Ehrlich, an Israeli who grew up in New York and now lives near Jerusalem.

But alongside the support, pressure has been growing on Netanyahu from the considerable number of Israelis who believe he is putting his own political survival ahead of the interests of the country.Mass street protests have become weekly events, drawing tens of thousands demanding the government do more to bring home hostages seized by Hamas, Oct. 7, and calling for Netanyahu to go.For the moment, he has succeeded in holding together centrists such as former army generals Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. All three have been wary of alienating the United States and hardline nationalist religious parties led by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.But many Israelis feel coalition survival has been achieved at the expense of disrespecting Biden, who has supported Israel despite a growing domestic political cost before November’s presidential election in which he will face former President Donald Trump in a rerun of the 2020 election.”Biden is a true friend of Israel. He’s given us a crazy amount of backing – and we haven’t known how to use it correctly,” columnist Itamar Eichner wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest newspaper.”Now the administration in Washington is convinced Netanyahu has put all his cards on Trump, so he’s trying to minimize 슬롯놀이터 damage ahead of November elections.”

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