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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

White House believes Netanyahu deliberately ‘provoking’ US – Axios

The Israeli prime minister has manufactured an artificial crisis, according to the outlet

The White House is “perplexed” by what several US officials have called an overreaction by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington’s decision not to veto a UN Security Council resolution on Gaza, according to a report by Axios.

The UNSC passed the resolution on Monday, demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the unconditional release of the remaining Israeli hostages, while highlighting “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into Gaza.

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The US abstained from voting, prompting Netanyahu’s office to accuse Washington of retreating from its “consistent position” since the start of the war – and to cancel a high-level mission to the US ahead of a planned Israeli military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

“All of that is self-defeating. The prime minister could have chosen a different course – to align with the US on the meaning of this resolution. He chose not to, apparently for political purposes,” the outlet cited one US official as saying.

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“If Prime Minister Netanyahu felt so strongly, why didn’t he call President Biden?” another official wondered.

White House spokesman John Kirby called the cancelation of the Israeli delegation’s visit “disappointing” and said that Washington was “perplexed by this” because the US abstention “does not represent a shift in our policy.” 

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller argued that the US did not use its veto power because the call for a ceasefire and for the release of hostages is consistent with Washington’s policy, noting that the resolution is non-binding.

Netanyahu reportedly used the UN vote as a pretext to not send a delegation to Washington because he “was afraid we might offer something reasonable,” another unnamed official claimed, according to Axios. “He would rather have a fight with us even if it’s not in Israel’s interest… It’s also a funny way to treat a partner that has given Israel so much support.”

Israel is planning to launch a ground assault on Rafah despite international warnings of a potential catastrophe. More than half of Gaza’s population has fled to take refuge in the city due to the ongoing Israeli bombardment of other parts of the enclave.