‘If Donald Trump was in power…’: Israeli minister claims Joe Biden ‘not fully supporting’ war on Hamas in Gaza

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The Israel-United States relationship courted new controversy when a far right minister in the Benjamin Netanyahu government claimed that US President joe Biden was “not fully supporting” their war in Gaza. Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister said that having Donald Trump in power would allow more freedom to fight Hamas.

As Anthony Blinken embarks on his fifth visit to the war torn region in the four months since Israel began bombarding Gaza, the remark by Itamar Ben-Gvir sparked outrage among other Israeli officials highlighting the sensitivity of relations between Israel and its biggest ally-US. 

The Joe Biden-led administration has skirted US Congress to rush weapons to Israel and shielded it from international calls for a cease-fire in the four months since Hamas’ 7 October attack. 

However, the White House has also urged Israel to take greater measures to avoid harming civilians and allow more aid to besieged Gaza.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Biden was hindering Israel’s war effort.

“Instead of giving us his full backing, Biden is busy with giving humanitarian aid and fuel (to Gaza), which goes to Hamas,” Ben-Gvir said. “If Trump was in power, the US conduct would be completely different.”

His remarks drew fire from Benny Gantz, a retired general and member of Netanyahu’s three-man War Cabinet, who said Ben-Gvir was “causing tremendous damage” to US-Israeli relations. 

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned Ben-Gvir’s comments as “racist” and called for international sanctions against him, saying he threatens the region’s stability.

Benjamin Netanyahu without naming Ben-Gvir said, “I am not in need of any assistance in navigating our relations with the US and the international community”.

Ben-Gvir, along with other far-right figures, has called for “voluntary” mass emigration of Palestinians from Gaza and the return of Jewish settlements, which Israel dismantled when it withdrew troops from the territory in 2005. 

The Joe Biden administration opposes any such scenario.

Ben-Gvir and other key members of Netanyahu’s governing coalition have threatened to bring down the government if they believe he is too soft on Hamas. 

Benjamin Netanyahu said the military was carrying out “very aggressive raids” in northern and central Gaza while dealing with remaining Hamas battalions around Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah.

The war in Gaza has leveled vast swaths of the tiny enclave, displaced 85% of its population and pushed a quarter of residents to starvation. The Health Ministry in Gaza said the overall death toll has now climbed to 27,365. 

Hamas and other militants killed some 1,200 people, in the 7 October attack in Israel. They abducted around 250 people. More than 100 captives were released during a weeklong cease-fire in November in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

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Published: 05 Feb 2024, 12:06 PM IST

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