Both current and former U.S. officials acknowledged that the administration believes Netanyahu’s term as prime minister is numbered. Current officials said internal expectations were that the Israeli prime minister’s term would probably last only a few months, at least until the initial combat phase of Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip was over, but four senior officials said All pointed to the sheer unpredictability of Israeli politics.
“There will be a need to come to terms with what happened within Israeli society,” said the official, who like other officials was granted anonymity to discuss details of private conversations. “Ultimately, the money ends up on the Prime Minister’s desk.”
The administration’s bleak outlook for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s political future comes as the president and his foreign policy team pursue a complex and bloody conflict with Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls and attacks Gaza. He is working with Prime Minister Netanyahu to steer the country diplomatically. Israel on October 7th.
Biden’s visit to Tel Aviv last month was primarily a show of support, but privately he urged Netanyahu to tread carefully and not escalate the war, two senior administration officials said. The president called on the prime minister to prioritize a two-state solution and be mindful of steps beyond efforts to decapitate Hamas, including the challenge of any kind of future occupation of Gaza.
At one point during the visit, Biden advised Netanyahu to consider scenarios he would entrust to his successor. This was an implicit suggestion that Prime Minister Netanyahu may not be in power during what is likely to be a prolonged conflict.
Another White House official downplayed the idea that Netanyahu’s future was a focus of attention, saying any chatter was mere fantasy and that the administration’s focus was squarely on supporting Israel’s security. insisted. Prime Minister Netanyahu was Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, and his political obituary has so far been written prematurely.
However, a current US official said Netanyahu’s unstable hold on power was always “in the background” of discussions within the Biden administration on the Middle East. And Biden’s inner circle has already engaged other Israeli politicians, some powerful and some not, in the war effort.
The talks also served as a way to gauge the thinking of the various Israelis who could be at the helm of the country, according to two senior administration officials and current and former U.S. officials.
The administration’s view of Prime Minister Netanyahu is driven by anger among Israelis over the failure of their security and intelligence services to stop the October 7 Hamas attack that killed about 1,400 people. There is a feeling that it has become significantly weaker. Growing international opposition to Israel’s current military operation in Gaza, which has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, has further undermined his position.
U.S. officials are keeping an eye on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments Support rate decline. They also point to a wave of public reporting about massive failures in Israeli intelligence, and say that upcoming assessments inside Israel, and on the American side, are likely to be even more damning, prompting Prime Minister Netanyahu to further I predict it will be a blow.
Biden administration officials have publicly declared solidarity with the Israeli government in the current crisis, but aides are also trying to get ahead of what Netanyahu’s ouster could mean for future Israel-US relations. are doing. The Biden administration has, among other things, discussed “next day” scenarios for the Gaza Strip after the fighting ends, including the possibility of sending multinational forces (though not necessarily working with the U.S. military) to stabilize the Strip. are doing.
A State Department spokeswoman and the Israeli embassy in Washington declined to comment on the matter.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is not a favorite of the Biden campaign. He was a vocal supporter of former Republican President Donald Trump, who Biden lost in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and could face again in 2024. He was also sharply critical of the Iran nuclear deal, which the Obama-Biden administration helped craft.
His increasingly hard-line stance over the years has upset Biden’s allies, who still support the establishment of a Palestinian state. Over the past year, he has provoked a public backlash from Biden over his desire to overhaul Israel’s judicial system, an effort that many Israelis see as undermining democracy. Ta.
However, Biden and Netanyahu have known each other for decades and have managed to maintain friendly relations in public despite their differences. And in the wake of the Hamas attack, Biden fully supported Netanyahu and Israel.
But behind the scenes, Mr. Biden has been relentless in his assessment of Netanyahu’s undemocratic tendencies, which he believes have partly distracted the government from preparing for the Hamas attack.
“They know this is the person they have to work with right now, and all of a sudden they have no idea who they’re dealing with,” said a person familiar with the administration’s thinking on Israel. No one has received a revelation.”
Looking to the future, U.S. officials are in talks with Benny Gantz, a member of the current national unity government. Naftali Bennett, former Prime Minister. Prominent Israeli figures include opposition leader and former prime minister Yair Lapid, former officials said.
The Biden administration had limited success in persuading Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies to accept military advice. American officials in particular are unhappy with Israel’s initial evacuation order for northern Gaza and with Israel’s apparent cut off of communications in Gaza ahead of the ground invasion.
The United States does not support international calls for a ceasefire, and Israel does not agree with American calls for a “humanitarian pause” in fighting. An Israeli official told Politico on Wednesday morning that the country is “ready to discuss a humanitarian suspension of several hours.”
The Biden administration is concerned that Netanyahu is tying his political future to war and could at some point move to escalate the conflict, two senior administration officials said.
“Even in the best-case scenario for Israel in this war, it is unlikely that Prime Minister Netanyahu will remain in power. The fear of the October 7th terrorist attack will remain, and the fear of so many Israelis have already directly blamed the lack of security on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies.” Hagar Chemali served as an official at the National Security Council and the Treasury Department in the Obama administration.
“On the contrary, even if the war drags on or more fronts open, I still believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu is on his way out, because Israelis are already convinced that Prime Minister Netanyahu is only going to win this particular battle. “This is because they are publicly questioning whether he is truly qualified for the job,” Chemali continued. It’s a broader war, not just for Hamas, but for a peaceful and secure Israel. ”