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Netanyahu Prepares for Showdown with Biden over Rafah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a showdown in the next several days with President Joe Biden over a potential military operation in Rafah, which Israel says is necessary to ensure the defeat of Hamas.

Earlier this week, Biden and Netanyahu spoke about the prospect of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) invasion of Rafah, the last stronghold of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The White House said that President Biden firmly opposed an invasion of Rafah, and that the U.S. believed Israel could defeat Hamas without a large-scale operation. He invited Israel to send officials to Washington for talks next week.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, described the conversation differently. He said that he had stressed the need to enter Rafah to destroy Hamas’s last four battalions, and told the Israeli public that he had only agreed to negotiate about humanitarian operations there.

As if to emphasize the point, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that he would be sending Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi to Washington. Both are long-term Likud Party figures; the American-born Dermer was the previous Israeli ambassador to the U.S., and was very close to President Donald Trump.

The Israelis are aware that Biden has political interests in mind: the “uncommitted” vote in the Michigan Democratic primary earlier this month, largely organized by anti-Israel activists, suggested that Biden could lose the key swing state in November if enough Democratic voters decide to sit out the vote in protest.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu spoke by video to the Senate Republican caucus. (He offered to speak to the Senate Democratic caucus, but was declined.) Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) said he could invite Netanyahu to address the House, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would need to agree to allow a joint address to Congress, and Schumer 4,208 for Netanyahu’s ouster less than a week ago, in a controversial speech.

The war has lasted for 167 days, ever since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and murdered 1200 people, taking 243 hostages to Gaza. Israel has destroyed a significant portion of Hamas but its leaders and hostages remain elusive.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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