Low point reached in rift between Biden and Netanyahu

 Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a conference in Jerusalem on March 17.
 Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a conference in Jerusalem on March 17. Leo Correa/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to scrap a planned delegation to Washington — a trip President Joe Biden personally requested a week ago — amounts to a low point in the ever-deepening rift between the two men.

Netanyahu did not communicate directly with Biden over the decision, a US official said, and the president has no plans to phone the prime minister to discuss the matter.

The White House viewed the cancelation as an overreaction and the move has perplexed US officials.

The talks in Washington were set to occur at a crucial moment, not only for the trajectory of the conflict but for gauging Washington’s influence on its ally.

US officials had planned to offer the Israeli delegation alternative options for going after Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, hoping to forestall what the US believes would amount to a humanitarian catastrophe if Israel launched a full-scale ground invasion.

Netanyahu remains determined to push ahead with a ground offensive in Rafah, even without US support.

Read more on the rupture between the leaders.

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