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

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

Biden's comments came while speaking with Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, on the floor of the House of Representatives after his State of the Union address on Thursday evening.

In return, Bennett congratulated Biden on his speech and urged the president to maintain pressure on Netanyahu over the growing humanitarian concerns in Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were also part of the brief conversation.

Biden then responds, using Netanyahu's nickname, saying: “I told him, 'Bibi, don't repeat this, but we will have a 'Come to Jesus' meeting.”

An aide to the president standing nearby then spoke quietly into the president's ear, appearing to alert Biden that the microphones remained on while he worked in the room.

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

The president on Friday acknowledged those comments, lightly mocking reporters as saying they were “eavesdropping” on his conversation. Asked whether he thought Netanyahu should do more to alleviate human suffering, Biden replied: “Yes, he does.”

The United Nations says the widening humanitarian crisis across Gaza and tight Israeli control over aid trucks has left almost the entire population suffering from severe food shortages. Officials have been warning for months that the Israeli blockade and attack are pushing the Palestinian territories into famine.

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Biden has become increasingly public about his frustration with the Netanyahu government's unwillingness to open more land crossings for much-needed aid to reach Gaza.

In his speech on Thursday, he called on Israelis to do more to alleviate suffering even as they try to eliminate Hamas.

“To Israel, I say that this humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip,” Biden said.

The president announced in his speech on Thursday that the US military will help establish a temporary dock aimed at increasing the amount of aid entering the region. Last week, the US military began airdropping aid into Gaza.

Biden said the temporary dock “will enable a massive increase in humanitarian aid arriving in Gaza.”

Associated Press writer Josh Bock contributed reporting.

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