Biden has told Netanyahu he needs to think about the lessons he would pass on to his successors, Politico reported.
One current U.S. official told the site that the shocking intelligence failures that allowed Hamas to attack, and the unrest in some quarters at the massive loss of life in Gaza, left Netanyahu severely weakened.
The official said some believed Netanyahu could be out of office within several months, once the initial Gaza response is over.
‘There’s going to have to be a reckoning within Israeli society about what happened,’ said the official. ‘Ultimately, the buck stops on the prime minister’s desk.’
Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu are seen meeting in Tel Aviv on October 18
Biden and Netanyahu, seen in Washington DC in 2010, have known each other for decades
Netanyahu seemed to acknowledge that on Saturday, when he tweeted late at night that his intelligence services let him down by failing to detect the long-planned terror attack.
Hours later, he deleted the tweet and issued an apology – a rare move for Netanyahu, and a sign that he is on shaky ground.
An assessment of the intelligence failures will likely cause more headaches for Netanyahu, and a U.S. report could be even more damning, Politico reported.
The U.S. president has known Netanyahu – Israel’s longest-serving prime minister – for decades.
The relationship between the two is not particularly close: Netanyahu was strongly supportive of Donald Trump and a family friend of Jared Kushner, and has been critical of Barack Obama and Biden’s overtures towards Iran.
Netanyahu appeared to blame security and intelligence officials for failing to detect signs of Hamas ‘s devastating invasion
The Biden administration, in turn, believes that more effort should be made to work on a two-state solution, and has been dismayed by Netanyahu’s autocratic tendencies and highly controversial attempts to remake the judiciary.
‘They know that this is who they have to work with right now, and no one has suddenly had a revelation about who they are dealing with,’ said a person familiar with the administration’s thinking on Israel.
But Biden has been solid in his support of Netanyahu after the October 7 terror attack, visiting Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18 in a powerful demonstration of the U.S. position.
After that visit, however, the issue of Netanyahu’s shaky political control was discussed, Politico reported.
Two senior administration officials told Politico that the topic arose in White House meetings where Biden was present.
Netanyahu’s support in the polls has fallen since the October 7 attacks.
A Times of Israel poll from October 13 showed a marked preference for Netanyahu’s rival, Benny Gantz, leading the country: 48 percent want the former defense minister, compared to 29 percent for the current prime minister.
The head of the ID, Herzi Halevi, had a 57 percent approval rating, while the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, had 54 percent of support.
Netanyahu only received 42 percent of support.
American officials are in contact with Gantz and Gallant, both members of Netanyahu’s war cabinet, plus Naftali Bennett, a former prime minister; and Yair Lapid, an opposition leader and former prime minister.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz speak during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv
Yair Lapid, former prime minister (left), is a person being watched as a possible successor, as is Naftali Bennett (right)
Palestinians search for bodies and survivors among the rubble following Israeli airstrikes on Al Falouja in Jabalia town on Wednesday
Palestinians carry a wounded girl after being rescued from under the rubble of buildings that were destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Jabaliya refugee camp on Wednesday
Biden, during his Tel Aviv visit, urged Netanyahu to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza as much as possible, and the White House concern at the soaring death toll in Gaza has only increased.
U.S. officials have warned in public and private that Israel needs to have a clear military objective and a plan for what happens if they are successful in ousting Hamas.
They have warned Netanyahu to learn the lessons from the United States’ toppling of Iraqi and Afghan rulers.
‘Even the best case scenario for Israel in this war would not likely keep Netanyahu in power because the horror of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack will remain fresh, and because so many Israelis already directly attribute the lack of security to Netanyahu’s policies,’ said Hagar Chemali, a former National Security Council and Treasury Department official in the Obama administration.
‘Conversely, even if the war drags on or additional fronts open, I still believe Netanyahu is on his way out because Israelis are already publicly questioning whether he is really the right person, not just to win this specific battle against Hamas, but the broader war for a peaceful and secure Israel.’
A National Security Council spokesperson denied that Netanyahu’s future was mentioned, saying the subject ‘has not been discussed by the President and is not being discussed.’
Adrienne Watson added: ‘Our focus is on the immediate crisis.’
The Israeli embassy in Washington DC denied Politico’s account.
‘At no point in recent weeks did the internal political scenario reported in this article come up in the conversations between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu,’ a spokesman said.