Senior Israeli official slams U.S. threat assessment report: 'Israel is not a protectorate of the U.S.'

Netanyahu's attacks on U.S. and Biden increase as intelligence report says the prime minister's rule is in jeopardy; 'We expect our friends to work to bring down the terror regime of Hamas and not the elected government in Israel,' official says

Itamar Eichner , Daniel Edelson, New York|
A senior Israeli official responded sharply to a U.S. intelligence report that said the viability of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government coalition and his place at the head of it "may be in jeopardy." His comments came following Netanyahu's attacks on U.S. President Joe Biden in interviews with U.S. news networks.
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“Those who elect the prime minister of Israel are the citizens of Israel and no one else,” the senior Israeli political official said of the report.
“Israel is not a protectorate of the U.S. but rather an independent and democratic country whose citizens are the ones who elect the government. We expect our friends to work to bring down the terror regime of Hamas and not the elected government in Israel,” the official said.
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בנימין נתניהו ג'ו ביידן
בנימין נתניהו ג'ו ביידן
U.S. President Joe Biden has been attacked in interviews by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with U.S. media outlets
(Photos: NBC)
The official U.S. intelligence report, which deals with the annual threat assessment for 2024, states that "Netanyahu's position as a leader, as well as the ruling coalition of extreme right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties that conducts a strict policy on Palestinian and security issues, may be in danger."
The authors of the report wrote that "distrust of Netanyahu’s ability to rule has deepened and broadened across the public from its already high levels before the war, and we expect large protests demanding his resignation and new elections. A different, more moderate government is a possibility.”
In addition, and despite Netanyahu's statements that Israel is close to victory in Gaza and that the goal is the destruction of Hamas, the report states that “Israel probably will face lingering armed resistance from Hamas for years to come, and the military will struggle to neutralize Hamas’s underground infrastructure, which allows insurgents to hide, regain strength and surprise Israeli forces."
Earlier on Tuesday, in Netanyahu's speech to the AIPAC conference via video hook-up, he once again implicitly attacked Biden. "I greatly appreciate the support we received from President Biden and the administration and I hope it continues. But let me be clear - Israel will win this war, no matter what," Netanyahu said at the beginning of his speech, when he made it clear that Israel will act deliberately against Hamas in Gaza, despite the U.S. warnings.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the AIPAC convention in Washington via video link

"In order to win this war, we must destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah. Otherwise, Hamas will regroup, rearm, and reconquer Gaza, and then we will be back to square one," Netanyahu said. “We will finish the job in Rafah, while enabling the civilian population to get out of harm’s way.”
At the beginning of the week, Biden voiced sharp criticism of Netanyahu, saying that in his opinion he "does Israel more harm than good." The U.S. president claimed in an interview that Netanyahu is hurting Israel by not doing more to prevent the deaths of civilians in Gaza. "There are other ways to deal with the trauma caused by Hamas. Netanyahu has the right to defend Israel and continue to attack Hamas, but he must pay more attention to the innocent lives that were lost because of the actions taken," the president said.
Alluding to Biden's words, the prime minister said: To our friends in the international community, I say this: You cannot say you support Israel’s right to defend itself, and then oppose Israel when it exercises that right. You cannot say you support Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, and then oppose Israel when it takes the actions necessary to achieve that goal. “You cannot say that you oppose Hamas’s strategy of using civilians as human shields, and then blame Israel for the civilian casualties that result from this Hamas cynical strategy.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Tuesday evening during a press briefing that Israel has committed to the White House to open more land crossings that will allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. He said the United States is working to deliver humanitarian aid by air and sea, but "this does not change our basic opinion, that the land transit should be on a larger scale and that the Israeli government should do more in this matter."
Miller also said that talks with Saudi Arabia about normalization between the kingdom and Israel continue. "We continue to discuss with Saudi Arabia about a potential normalization with Israel, as well as about the administration in Gaza the day after," he told reporters.
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