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Biden, Netanyahu Clash Post UN Vote On Gaza Ceasefire

Relations between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deteriorated significantly as the United States took the unprecedented step of allowing the passage of a Gaza ceasefire resolution at the United Nations. This move drew a sharp rebuke from Netanyahu, who promptly canceled a scheduled visit to Washington by a senior Israeli delegation. The cancellation came in response to the U.S. abstaining from a critical Security Council vote, which demanded an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, as well as the release of all hostages held by Palestinian militants.

The suspension of the planned meeting serves as a significant obstacle to U.S. efforts aimed at addressing the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and persuading Netanyahu to consider alternatives to a potentially devastating ground invasion of Rafah, the last relatively safe haven for Palestinian civilians.

The threat of such an offensive has further strained the longstanding alliance between the United States and Israel, raising concerns about potential repercussions such as the restriction of military aid if Netanyahu were to defy Biden's opposition and proceed with the offensive regardless.

Former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller highlighted the breakdown in trust between the Biden administration and Netanyahu, warning that failure to manage the crisis carefully could exacerbate tensions even further.

Biden's decision to abstain from the UN resolution, a departure from the longstanding U.S. policy of shielding Israel from such measures, reflects growing frustration with Netanyahu's handling of the situation. Despite facing pressure from allies and fellow Democrats to rein in Israel's military response to Hamas' actions, Biden is also mindful of the importance of supporting Israel's defense, particularly in light of his upcoming re-election bid in November.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, faces his own domestic challenges, including demands from far-right coalition members for a tough stance against the Palestinians and ongoing protests calling for his resignation. He characterized the U.S. abstention as a significant retreat from previous positions and warned that it would harm Israel's war efforts.

The Biden administration expressed perplexity at Israel's reaction, insisting that there had been no change in policy. While Washington had previously refrained from using the term "ceasefire" and had consistently supported Israel at the UN, growing global pressure and the looming threat of famine in Gaza prompted the abstention.

Moving forward, the challenge for Biden and Netanyahu is to prevent their differences from spiraling out of control. Despite the rift between the two leaders, analysts believe that there is still room for dialogue and cooperation. However, the abstention further deepens the divide between Biden and Netanyahu, who have had a strained relationship even during the best of times.

Biden's statement regarding a potential Rafah invasion as a "red line" was met with defiance from Netanyahu, who vowed to press ahead with the offensive. Although U.S. officials have noted no imminent signs of such an operation, tensions continue to escalate.

The situation is further complicated by criticism of Netanyahu from U.S. senators, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for new elections in Israel to replace him. While Netanyahu faces potential defeat in elections, he appears determined to continue the Gaza war despite mounting international pressure.

Netanyahu's emergency unity government remains steadfast in its support for continuing the conflict until Hamas is dismantled and the hostages are released. Despite the growing risk of international isolation, there is little indication of willingness to heed U.S. calls for moderation.

Hard-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich emphasized Israel's partnership with the United States but asserted that it was not beholden to the U.S. as a patron state. As tensions persist, the Biden administration faces the delicate task of balancing support for Israel with the concerns of progressive Democrats, while Netanyahu continues to navigate both domestic and international pressures in pursuit of his objectives.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DXB News Network staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

March 26, 2024 noon 8200

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