Politics

White House Dodges on if Biden Agrees with Schumer Saying Netanyahu Is ‘Obstacle’ to Peace in ‘Good Speech’

On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby repeatedly dodged on whether President Joe Biden agrees with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) remarks that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an “obstacle to peace” that Schumer made in a speech that Biden said was a “good speech.”

Host Andrea Mitchell said, “In the last hour, the President appearing to endorse Sen. Schumer’s comments, comments that he called a ‘good speech.’ That’s praise from the President of the United States in the Oval Office. That clearly was thought out.”

Kirby responded, “Well, the President has great respect for Leader Schumer, as you know, Andrea. And he also has respect for the passion with which Leader Schumer spoke yesterday. And he knows where it’s coming from, when it comes to Chuck Schumer. And as the President also said, Andrea, he knows that the sentiments that Leader Schumer expressed in that very passionate speech yesterday are shared by many, many Americans. The President, for his part, is going to keep working, as he has been, with Prime Minister Netanyahu and that War Cabinet…to make sure that more humanitarian assistance can get in and that we can do better to alleviate the suffering of the Gazan people. We know that Israel has a right to defend themselves, and we’re going to continue to help them do that. But they also have a special obligation to take care of those innocent civilians, and we’re going to keep talking to them about that, too.”

Mitchell then said, “The President had a choice about the words he would use. By calling it a ‘good speech’ and saying that he understands Chuck — has respect for him and understands Chuck Schumer’s passion, the views of many Americans being represented. Does he agree with those views that Prime Minister Netanyahu is an obstacle to peace?”

Kirby responded, “The President knows that the Israeli people get to determine who their elected government representatives are. That’s what democracy’s all about, and he respects that. And he has been nothing but candid and forthright with the Prime Minister about ways in which we think things can be done differently, things can be done better, things can be done a little bit more stridently to get more assistance into the people of Gaza, and to reduce the number of civilian casualties. My goodness, these are two guys that have no problem being honest with one another. And I can assure you that the President has done that.”

Mitchell then followed up, “That is in private. And, of course, those differences have been expressed by others and by Secretary Blinken. But does the President of the United States think that the Prime Minister of Israel is an obstacle to peace?”

Kirby responded, “The President will continue to work with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his War Cabinet, again, to do everything we can to alleviate that humanitarian suffering in Gaza. Now, look, we’ve been honest, Andrea, that there have been times in the not-too-distant past here, in recent days, where we don’t believe that the Israelis have done as much as they can do and should do to increase the level of trucks getting into Gaza, that there have been some obstacles to moving forward, in terms of getting them the food, the water, the medicine, the fuel that they need. And we’ve been very, very frank about that.”

Mitchell then said, “Let me just say that that answer — that that question was not answered three times. That’s all right. That was your answer.” She then moved on to a discussion of Israel launching an offensive in Rafah.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett



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