Biden warned about ‘meddling’ in Israeli politics after intel report says Netanyahu’s leadership ‘in jeopardy’

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An American intelligence agency released an assessment that determined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure faces serious challenges, with one expert warning the report could give the appearance of trying to influence Israeli voters.

“We didn’t need an intelligence assessment to read Israeli public opinion polls. Israel is a democracy and has a free press. The politics of Israel are on full display,” Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former National Security Council official, told Fox News Digital. 

“The fact that ODNI inserted this section and framed it in this manner reeks of an administration trying to meddle in Israeli democracy and put pressure on the government,” Goldberg added. 

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)’s report noted that the already prevalent “lack of confidence” in Netanyahu’s governance, which took a significant hit due to the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, has “deepened and expanded even more than before the war, and we are witnessing large protests demanding his resignation.”

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President Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York Sept. 20, 2023.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

“A different and more moderate government is a possible scenario,” the report stated. It also claimed Israel is expected to face increasing international pressure as a result of the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Netanyahu’s viability as leader, as well as his governing coalition of far-right and ultra-orthodox parties that pursued hardline policies on Palestinian and security issues, may be in jeopardy,” the report said.

A senior Israeli official pushed back on the report, saying, “Those who elect the prime minister of Israel are the citizens of Israel and no one else. Israel is not a vassal state of the U.S. but an independent and democratic country whose citizens are the ones who elect the government,” according to Axios.

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Western Wall, Jerusalem

Thousands of people arrived at the Western Wall Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem on the eve of the new Jewish month of Shevat to a mass prayer for the peace of the State of Israel, for the peace of the security forces and for the release of the hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Jerusalem, Jan 10, 2024.  (Yoav Dudkevitch/TPS)

“We expect our friends to act to overthrow the terror regime of Hamas and not the elected government in Israel,” a statement from the official sent to reporters Tuesday said, according to the Axios report. 

The ODNI report further discussed that armed resistance from Hamas will likely continue for years as the IDF works to eradicate all traces of Hamas tunnels and bases of operation. But it also claimed Israel and Iran have started to adjust their actions to prevent a wider conflict between the two countries, which could prove disastrous for the region. 

Biden walks off Air Force One

President Joe Biden walks off of Air Force One as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport. (AP/Evan Vucci)

“We assess that the Iranian leadership was not involved in the planning of the October 7 attack and that it had no prior information about the attack,” the report said. 

Yair Lapid, former Israeli prime minister and leader of the opposition, has repeatedly urged the Knesset to hold elections and select a new leader in the face of Netanyahu’s failures. Lapid’s Yesh Atid party filed a “no confidence” motion against Netanyahu in January, but the effort failed a vote in the Knesset. 

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“This government cannot continue to exist. It is a failure that costs human lives and the future of the country,” Yesh Atid said after the Knesset passed a $14.5 billion budget that it argued “favors unnecessary offices and coalition funds over aid to evacuees, reservists and to strengthening the sense of security.”

Israel protests

An aerial photograph showing protesters outside Israel’s parliament on March 27.  (Israeli Knesset)

Netanyahu has found himself facing some friction with President Biden after the U.S. president was caught on a hot mic moment following the State of the Union claiming he told his Israeli counterpart, “You and I are going to have a ‘come to Jesus’ moment,” referring to a moment of major realization. 

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At a White House press briefing Tuesday, though, it was revealed the two leaders may not have spoken in over a month. In response to a question from reporters, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan insisted the two governments “have communicated throughout the month.” 

“Let’s see what happens [in Rafah]. … The issue is what happens on the ground and not what happens in the back and forth of words,” Sullivan said.

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