Biden, Bibi split on occupation of Gaza

November 7, 2023

In the latest sign of a growing rift between the Biden administration and Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House has come out swinging at Israel's plans for what happens once its war with Hamas is over.

Netanyahu signaled Monday that Israel would occupy Gaza indefinitely once Hamas has been destroyed.

Netanyahu had told ABC News that Israel would occupy Gaza to prevent a power vacuum from forming. Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007.

"I think Israel will for an indefinite period have security responsibility,” Netanyahu told ABC News. “We’ve seen what happens when we don’t have that… security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine."

Takeover of Gaza?

But Biden's oily Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that Netanyahu's proposal was not well-received with the administration.

“The president still believes that a reoccupation of Gaza by Israeli forces is not good. It’s not good for Israel; not good for the Israeli people,” Kirby told CNN This Morning.

“One of the conversations that Secretary (Antony) Blinken has been having in the region is what does post-conflict Gaza look like? What does governance look like in Gaza? Because whatever it is it can’t be what it was on October 6. It can’t be Hamas,” he added.

Biden, Israel drift

Biden and his old boss, Barack Obama - who infamously did not get along with "Bibi" - have warned Israel that it risks being isolated internationally as the death toll rises in Gaza.

The notion that Gaza is under continued Israeli occupation plays a central role in the ideology of Palestinian nationalists and their fellow travelers on the left, including Obama, who this weekend said Israel was partially to blame for the October 7 Hamas attack.

Israel says it has not occupied Gaza since exiting the territory in 2005. Biden has said it would be a "big mistake" for Israel to re-occupy Gaza and that a two-state solution must be the goal.

Biden was initially nothing but supportive of Israel after the brutal October 7 terror attack, but in recent days, Biden has pivoted to urging Israel to pull back.

Biden dispatched his top diplomat, Tony Blinken, to Israel last week to urge a humanitarian "pause" in the fighting, a request Israel has rejected.

"I think it will hamper the war effort," Netanyahu said. "It'll hamper our effort to get our hostages out because the only thing that works on these criminals in Hamas is the military pressure that we're exerting."

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