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White House denies discussing prospects of Netanyahu departing office

The White House on Wednesday night denied a report according to which US President Joe Biden and his aides believe Benjamin Netanyahu is unlikely to remain Israel’s prime minister for much longer — and that the American leader has told him as much.

  • “This description is false. This topic has not been discussed by the president and is not being discussed. Our focus is on the immediate crisis,” National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

A report in Politico Wednesday, citing two senior administration officials, said Biden had discussed the matter and had even spoken to Netanyahu on the matter during his wartime visit to Israel last month, advising the premier to consider lessons he’d want to relay to his successor.

The two senior Biden officials said the administration even fears Netanyahu may view his own political future as tied to the war, influencing his actions and potentially encouraging him to escalate matters at some point.

A third US official told the outlet that the expectation within the administration was that Netanyahu would only be able to remain in power for a few more months or perhaps until the first phase of Israel’s operation in Gaza ends.

“There’s going to have to be a reckoning within Israeli society about what happened,” the official said. “Ultimately, the buck stops on the prime minister’s desk.”

However, all three acknowledged the volatility of Israeli politics as a caveat to their speculations.

  • As the US begins to consider a potential post-Netanyahu scenario, a former US official told Politico that the administration has held talks with other top Israeli figures, including National Unity party chair Benny Gantz, who joined the government after the war’s outbreak; Opposition Leader Yair Lapid; and former prime minister Naftali Bennett.

Netanyahu’s policies over his many years in power have been under intense scrutiny since the devastating Hamas assault on October 7, the single worst attack in the state’s history, which saw thousands of terrorists stream over the Gaza border and massacre Israeli communities, killing some 1,400 and abducting hundreds more.

  • Critics have accused the premier of leading a years-long campaign to strengthen Hamas in Gaza, viewing the terrorist outfit as a convenient counterbalance to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, with the division among Palestinians preventing him from needing to make diplomatic concessions to the internationally recognized Palestinian representatives in Ramallah.
  • Netanyahu denies such accusations, insisting he has always fought to weaken Hamas.

Unlike his defense minister, the IDF chief of staff, army generals, the head of the Shin Bet and numerous current and former Israeli officials, Netanyahu has refused to acknowledge responsibility for the attacks that occurred under his watch. Polls indicate the Israeli public is not with him on this.

  • Leaders of the judicial overhaul protest movement, as well as former senior security officials, have in recent days ramped up their criticism of the government and called for Netanyahu to resign, after a period of relative political moderation in the immediate aftermath of the October 7 atrocities perpetrated by Hamas.

Many of the protest organizations that sprang up against the government’s agenda to reduce the power of the judiciary turned themselves into civil volunteer organizations to help those affected by the Hamas invasion and massacres, and to campaign for the release of the captives taken hostage by Hamas, in the wake of the savage assault.

But activist leaders such as Moshe Radman and Shikma Bresler, together with former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin and other former senior IDF officials, have now begun calling for Netanyahu to resign in the midst of the war with Gaza.

  • “‘You don’t change a prime minister during a war’ is a mistaken comment that is repeatedly said by journalists, public figures and citizens in general,” Radman posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday.

But activist leaders such as Moshe Radman and Shikma Bresler, together with former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin and other former senior IDF officials, have now begun calling for Netanyahu to resign in the midst of the war with Gaza.

  • “‘You don’t change a prime minister during a war’ is a mistaken comment that is repeatedly said by journalists, public figures and citizens in general,” Radman posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday.

Source: TOI