Already a member? Log In

Bibi Stings

Benjamin Netanyahu Yoav Gallant
Israel’s national security establishment sees Netanyahu as a cynical opportunist willing to put his short-term political interests over the country’s national security needs. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
April 15, 2024

On Saturday night, as hundreds of Iranian drones and rockets sped toward Israel, the country once again faced a dilemma that has become all too familiar: What was good for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wasn’t necessarily good for Israel, and vice versa. While the country braced for attack, Bibi’s political demise was, once again, delayed, deus ex cruise missile. The U.S., Britain, and France pitched in to help Israel shoot down nearly all the rockets and drones, while Jordan, whose population is heavily Palestinian, shot down some 20 percent of the incoming fire. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was declaring America’s full-throated support for Israel, calling it “ironclad.” News networks interrupted coverage to report that Joe Biden and Bibi were due to speak shortly after the attacks commenced; Biden reassured the P.M. that the U.S., once again, stood with Israel.

This show of international solidarity was a stunning development given the recent trajectory of U.S.-Israeli relations. Before Saturday, the biggest story out of the region was the Israeli attack on a World Central Kitchen aid convoy that killed seven people, including one American. In its wake, Biden had what sounded like a rather tense phone call with Netanyahu, wherein the American president warned that he was this close to conditioning further aid to Israel. This idea had been anathema in Washington for generations, which is why Biden had held off for months on floating it, despite growing calls from inside his party. But the W.C.K. deaths seemed to leave him little choice.