Washington: US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to change his hardline government and that Israel cannot say no in the future to a Palestinian state, ramping up pressure on the Israelis.
Biden's remarks at a fundraising event for his 2024 re-election campaign was a further sign of growing US concern at Israel's bombing in Gaza in which thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed.
"They're starting to lose that support," Biden said, referring to the international community's alarm at the bombing.
The sharp comments came as Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, prepares to travel to Israel for talks with the Israeli war cabinet.
Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel enjoys US support for its goal of destroying Hamas and recovering hostages held by the Palestinian militants, but the allies differ about what might follow the Gaza war.
'Most conservative government'
Biden specifically mentioned Israel's far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is Israel's national security minister, and said "this is the most conservative government in Israel's history." "He (Netanyahu) has to change this government. This government in Israel is making it very difficult," Biden said.
He also said that ultimately Israel "can't say no" to a Palestinian state, which Israeli hardliners oppose.
Biden said "we have an opportunity to begin to unite the region ... and they still want to do it. But we have to make sure that Bibi understands that he's got to make some moves to strengthen... You cannot say no Palestinian state... That's going to be the hard part.
Sullivan said on Tuesday that during his visit to Israel he will discuss with Israeli officials their timetable for the war in Gaza.
"The subject of how they are seeing the timetable of this war will certainly be on the agenda for my meetings," said Sullivan, who is expected to travel later this week.
Biden has expressed strong support for Israel's military operation against Hamas militants in Gaza but he and his team have expressed growing concern about the death of Palestinian civilians.
Biden plans to meet on Wednesday at the White House with family members of Americans taken hostage by Hamas during its October 7 attack in southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed, a White House official said.
Sullivan blamed Hamas for the breakdown of an Israeli-Hamas truce from November 24 to December 1 because the militants refused to release more hostages.
"Hamas to this day continues to hold women, elderly people, civilians in significant numbers. And yet still, it's saying: 'Hey, how about everybody just stops.' So we believe that Israel has the right to defend itself," he said.