Joe Biden considers going public with frustration over ‘a--hole’ Benjamin Netanyahu

Joe Biden recently called Israel's assault in Gaza as 'over the top'
Joe Biden recently called Israel's assault in Gaza as 'over the top' - AP/Andrew Harnik
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Joe Biden is growing increasingly irritated with Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he is understood to have called an “a--hole” several times in private.

Amid mounting frustration with the Israeli leader, the US president is believed to be edging closer to a public breach with Mr Netanyahu in a bid to distance himself from the unpopular prime minister.

Mr Netanyahu has infuriated the Biden administration in recent days by announcing, despite US opposition, plans for a military operation in Rafah, where around 1.4 million Palestinians are believed to be sheltering.

Mr Biden had warned Mr Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday that he believes “a military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan” to evacuate civilians.

Mr Netanyahu further inflamed tensions by denouncing a hostage deal while Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, was in the region trying to broker an agreement.

‘I love you, even if I can’t stand you’

Mr Biden has been reluctant to criticise Mr Netanyahu, whom he has known for four decades, but on Thursday he made his spikiest remark yet when he called Israel’s assault in Gaza “over the top”.

Mr Biden reportedly told his Israeli counterpart: “I love you, Bibi, even if I can’t stand you.”

In private, the US president has reportedly gone further, having referred to Mr Netanyahu as an “a--hole” at least three times and claimed he is the main obstacle to a ceasefire, according to NBC News.

Suggesting their relationship could be nearing an inflection point, Mr Biden has not refrained from making disparaging remarks in front of campaign donors.

Mr Biden has referred to Mr Netanyahu as “this guy”, said he is “giving him hell” and is impossible to deal with, sources said.

“He just feels like this is enough,” one source said. “It has to stop.”

Speaking to a small group of donors at a fundraiser recently, Mr Biden reportedly said Mr Netanyahu has “been a pain in my a-- lately” or “he’s been killing me lately”.

Mr Biden and Mr Netanyahu
Mr Biden and Mr Netanyahu have known each other for 40 years and are said to respect each other - Getty Images

It comes as White House aides are understood to have been urging Mr Biden to be more critical of his Israeli counterpart, according to the Washington Post.

Mr Biden, who is a staunch supporter of Israel, has been reluctant to make his frustrations public so far but is said to be coming round to the idea.

It comes as an Israeli special forces rescue operation in the early hours of Monday morning freed two Israeli-Argentine hostages held by Hamas militants in Rafah, with the supporting airstrikes killing 67 people.

‘I’m not ruling anything out’

On Monday, Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, said he did not think the air strikes carried out during the rescue operation in Rafah was a “launch of a full-scale offensive” in the region.

“We will make clear – as we did last weekend, as the president did in his conversation over the weekend – that without such a plan that is credible, and that they can execute, we do not support a full-scale military operation there going ahead,” he said.

When asked what repercussions Israel would face if it went ahead with the campaign without protecting civilians, Mr Miller said “I’m not ruling anything out.”

Asked if the United States would consider cutting aid to Israel, Mr Miller said: “You’ve got to look... at how such a step would be received by Israel’s opponents, both inside Gaza and outside of the state of Israel.”

A spokesperson for the National Security Council insisted that Mr Biden and Mr Netanyahu have a respectful relationship.

“The president has been clear where he disagrees with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but this is a decades-long relationship that is respectful in public and in private,” the spokesperson told NBC News.

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