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Biden's TIME interview catches headlines as he implies Netanyahu may be prolonging Gaza war for political reasons

During briefing on Tuesday, Biden says Israeli PM under 'enormous pressure' to secure hostage release

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset plenum hall in Jerusalem, May 27, 2024. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

U.S. President Joe Biden, during an interview with TIME Magazine published on Tuesday, implied that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be extending the war in Gaza for political reasons.

When Biden was asked if he agreed with the claims that Netanyahu is prolonging the war for his own political benefit, he replied: "I'm not going to comment on that."

However, soon after, he stated: “There is every reason for people to draw that conclusion.”

The U.S. president's statements in the May 28 TIME interview attracted significant attention and prompted follow-up questions during White House and U.S. State Department briefings later on Tuesday. Biden's office refrained from clarifying his comment further.

Following a speech at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, Biden was asked by a reporter to weigh in on whether he thinks the Israeli prime minister is continuing the war to remain in power.

“I don’t think so,” Biden replied, offering a different response than his previous interview with TIME. “He’s trying to work out the serious problem that he has.”

While Biden seemed to question Netanyahu’s motivations during the TIME interview, according to the full transcript, he also noted that the Israeli prime minister is "prepared to do about anything to get the hostages back."

The transcript also revealed that Biden said Netanyahu is under "enormous pressure" to secure a hostage deal, saying: "The Israelis desperately want a ceasefire in order to get the hostages home."

Netanyahu has been facing increasing criticism from multiple directions recently, with his far-right coalition partners threatening to exit the government if he agrees to the hostage release proposal presented by Biden last week.

While the deal may have enough support to pass the broader Security Cabinet, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has threatened to bring down the government, a move that could prompt Netanyahu to back out of the deal.

Netanyahu has been accused of delaying strategic discussions regarding Gaza "the day after" the war. Some believe he may be seeking to avoid conflict with Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, as both ministers have called for re-establishing Israeli settlements in Gaza.

On Sunday, U.S. National Security Council John Kirby reportedly said the United States expects Israel to stick to the hostage deal proposal it made last week and accept the offer if Hamas agrees, as well.

“We have every expectation that if Hamas agrees to the proposal-as was transmitted to them, an Israeli proposal-that Israel would say ‘Yes,'” Kirby said during an interview with ABC News program, “This Week.”

On Friday night, Biden presented an Israeli proposal for a hostage release and ceasefire deal, which he noted had already been submitted to Hamas, via Qatar mediators, on Thursday.

The offer, he said, would “bring all the hostages home, ensure Israel’s security, create a better day after in Gaza without Hamas in power, and set the stage for a political settlement that provides a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Biden said the deal would remove Hamas from power, making it “no longer capable of carrying out another 'October 7,'” but did not specify who would govern Gaza. Kirby said Biden’s statement was “based on an accumulation of our own intelligence assessments across the intelligence agencies.”

However, Kirby noted that the U.S. never said, "Hamas has been wiped off the face of the map.”

“We have not said that Hamas has no military capabilities,” Kirby said. “We have not said that they don’t still represent a viable threat to the Israeli people. Of course, they do.”

“But they don’t have the military capabilities to do what they did on the seventh of October," he continued. "From a military perspective only – as President Biden said – the Israelis have accomplished most of their goals in Gaza.”

Israeli officials have maintained that the war in Gaza must continue until the Hamas terrorist group has been destroyed.

When asked if Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza, Biden responded, “It’s uncertain."

Biden also highlighted in the TIME interview the importance of an Israel-Saudi normalization deal, stating it would be “overwhelmingly in our interest.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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