Biden says US has no ‘red line’ on Israel in Hamas war where ‘they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them’

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President Biden on Saturday said that the U.S. doesn’t have a “red line” with Israel over its actions in the war with Hamas that would leave the Middle Eastern country unprotected. 

“I am never going to leave Israel,” the president told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart in a wide-ranging interview. “The defense of Israel is still critical. There’s no red line [where] I’m going to cut off all weapons, so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them.”

Biden was clarifying a hot mic comment from Thursday night after delivering the State of the Union address in which he was caught saying he planned a “come-to-Jesus” talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his handling of the war. 

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President Biden said he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than he’s helping,” in the Gaza war but vowed the U.S. would never stop supporting the country.  (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

“He has a right to defend Israel, a right to continue to pursue Hamas, but he must, he must, he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken,” Biden told Capehart.

He said in “his view” that Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than he’s helping Israel … It’s contrary to what he stands for. I think it’s a big mistake so I want to see a ceasefire.”

The president added that he was aiming for a “major, major” exchange of hostages over a six-week period heading into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts Monday. 

That appears increasingly unlikely as Hamas has balked at a deal pushed by the U.S. and its allies that would have seen fighting paused along with the release of additional hostages held by Hamas and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, and a surge in humanitarian aid into Gaza.

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The president added, however, there would be “red lines that if he crosses – you cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead.” 

Gaza City airstrike damage

Destruction from Israeli airstrikes is seen in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

He said there’s “other ways to deal with the trauma caused by Hamas” while avoiding civilian casualties. He said he told the Israeli war cabinet to not make the same mistake the U.S. did decades ago when it went into Iraq and Afghanistan on the hunt for Osama bin Laden after 9/11. 

“It wasn’t necessary, and it just caused more problems than it erased.” 

He added that the U.S. plans to do “everything it can” to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza for civilians suffering in the war. 

Biden has for months warned that Israel risks losing international support over mounting civilian casualties in the region. 

The president also said he “understands” Pro-Palestinian Democrats who protest voted “uncommitted” against him in some Democratic primary states over his support of Israel.

“I don’t blame them for being upset. Their family’s there, there are people who are dying. They want something done about it, and they’re saying, ‘Joe, do something, do something.”

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He continued, “I can fully understand, can’t you? You have a family member there or come from a family that is still isolated there and maybe victimized. It’s understandable they feel that way and that’s why I’m doing everything I can to try to stop it.” 

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