Biden Embraces Schumer’s Speech Castigating Netanyahu

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President Biden did not explicitly endorse any of the specific criticisms in the speech. But his comments were the latest step in his escalating public critique of the Israeli prime minister.

President Biden, wearing a blue jacket and a green tie with black dots, sits in a cream-colored chair in the Oval Office with microphones overhead and portraits in the background.
President Biden said that Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, had informed his White House staff before his speech.Credit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

David E. SangerPeter Baker

By David E. Sanger and Peter Baker

David E. Sanger and Peter Baker, who have spent decades covering the White House and American national security policy, reported from Washington.

President Biden on Friday praised Senator Chuck Schumer’s address lashing out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, calling it “a good speech” that raised concerns “shared not only by him but by many Americans.”

Even though Mr. Biden did not explicitly endorse any of the specific criticisms in the speech, or Mr. Schumer’s call for elections to replace Mr. Netanyahu, the president’s comments were the latest step in his escalating public critique of the Israeli prime minister.

In private, the two have clashed in a series of phone calls — the last of which was a month ago — but Mr. Biden has been reluctant to publicly split with Mr. Netanyahu.

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Schumer said he delivered the speech because “I thought it was important to show even if you strongly disagree with Netanyahu, you can still be a strong ally of Israel.”

There is no indication that the White House was involved in any way in planning the speech.

But sometimes in Washington, the most telling indicator is not a public statement but the absence of one. Mr. Biden could have asked Mr. Schumer to hold back, so that he did not endanger the president’s future ability to deal with Mr. Netanyahu, with whom he now barely speaks. He could have said the United States should not express an opinion on the inner workings of Israel’s democratic processes. He did none of that.

Lawmakers and aides who have spoken with Mr. Biden in recent weeks say his anger at Mr. Netanyahu is now eating away at his reluctance to go public with his critiques. He is angry that Mr. Netanyahu has publicly rejected the administration’s insistence that he restrict bombing campaigns that have killed roughly 30,000 people in Gaza, let in far more aid and plan for a postwar future that does not involve Israel running the territory.


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