Biden hot mic moment shows growing frustration with Netanyahu over Gaza crisis

Washington — WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's growing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to escalate, as the Democrat was caught on a hot mic saying he and the Israeli leader “should have Jesus come to the meeting.”

On the floor of the House chamber following Thursday night's State of the Union address, Sen. Biden's comments came as he spoke with Michael Bennett, D-Colo.

In the exchange, Bennett hailed Biden's speech and urged the president to continue pressing Netanyahu on the growing humanitarian concerns in Gaza. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were also part of the brief conversation.

Biden responded, using Netanyahu's nickname, saying, “I told him, Bibi, don't do this again, but you and I are going to come to the Jesus meeting.”

A standing aide to the president then speaks quietly into the president's ear, appearing to alert Biden that the microphones were on while he worked in the room.

“I'm on the hot mic here,” Biden says after being alerted. “Good. That's good.”

The president acknowledged the comments Friday, taking a light-hearted jab at reporters “eavesdropping” on his conversation. Asked if he thought Netanyahu should do more to alleviate humanitarian suffering, Biden replied, “Yes, he does.”

According to the United Nations, the widening humanitarian crisis across Gaza and tight Israeli control of aid trucks has resulted in food shortages for almost the entire population. Officials have been warning for months that Israel's siege and offensive could push the Palestinian territories into famine.

Biden has become increasingly public about the Netanyahu government's reluctance to open more land crossings for much-needed aid to enter Gaza.

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In a speech on Thursday, he called on the Israelis to do more to alleviate the suffering, even as they try to eradicate Hamas.

“For Israel, I say this humanitarian aid cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip,” Biden said.

In a speech on Thursday, the president announced that the U.S. military would help establish a temporary ship to boost aid flows into the region. Last week, the US military began airdropping aid into Gaza.

The temporary ship, Biden said, would “enable a massive increase in humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

Associated Press writer Josh Bogue contributed reporting.

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