Ex-U.S. Ambassador To Israel Says Netanyahu Should Step Down Amid War In Gaza

Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, on Sunday called for the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the leader poses a “clear and present” danger to his own country as the war in Gaza continues.

Indyk cited a report by The New York Times detailing how Netanyahu allowed and “encouraged” payments of millions of dollars every month from Qatar to Gaza for years, believing it would help ensure peace in the territory as he and others wrongly surmised that the Hamas militant group wasn’t interested in or capable of hurting Israel.

An official in Netanyahu’s office said many Israeli leaders have allowed payment to flow to Gaza, but only for humanitarian purposes.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu acted to weaken Hamas significantly,” the official told the Times. “He led three powerful military operations against Hamas which killed thousands of terrorists and senior Hamas commanders.”

Netanyahu also reportedly made the political calculation that if Hamas was in power in Gaza, while the Palestinian Authority governed in the West Bank, he would be able to avoid entering talks about Palestinian statehood, the Times said. Netanyahu has previously denied the suggestion, calling the idea that he would want to help Hamas build strength “ridiculous.”

Netanyahu “needs to resign before he does even more damage to Israel,” Indyk wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

In a subsequent post, Indyk replied to one of his followers who pointed out that many other world leaders have made serious mistakes during their time in power.

“How many hit jobs can you deliver while Israel fights for its life?” the person wrote.

Indyk replied: “I would agree with you if [Netanyahu] wasn’t currently causing a rift with Joe Biden, Israel’s only friend in this crisis. His determination to stay in power no matter the cost is a clear and present danger to Israel.”

The U.S. has stood by Israel following the unprecedented Oct. 7 Hamas attack that left some 1,200 Israelis dead, and amid the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza that has led to the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians, according to local officials.

The State Department on Saturday announced it was sending Israel $106.5 million worth of tank shells using emergency authority, bypassing the need for congressional approval.

The U.S. on Friday was also the only country to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. The U.K. abstained from the vote.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought to explain the Biden administration’s position in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Blinken said the U.S. supports humanitarian pauses, but that “when it comes to a cease-fire in this moment, with Hamas still alive, still intact, and again, with the stated intent of repeating Oct. 7 again and again, that would simply perpetuate the problem.”

Netanyahu welcomed the U.S.’s veto in a statement.

“Israel will continue our justified war aimed at eliminating Hamas and at achieving the rest of the war goals that we have set,” he said.

Netanyahu has not assumed responsibility for his country getting blindsided by Hamas on Oct. 7, despite recent reports suggesting the country obtained a document previewing the militants’ plan for an attack more than a year ago. Netanyahu has said any questions about the security failure will have to wait until after the war is over.

Indyk, who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2001, is currently a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.