Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin NetanyahuKobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Republican senators on Wednesday that Israel will continue its efforts to defeat Hamas in the Gaza Strip, senators told reporters after he addressed a party lunch, according to Reuters.

"He's going to do what he said he's going to do. He's going to finish it," Senator Jim Risch said.

Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Netanyahu had addressed civilian casualties and the need to get more aid into Gaza. He said Netanyahu was "very supportive" of plans to build a temporary pier and bring in aid by sea.

"He's very sensitive to the fact that every civilian casualty is a very unfortunate event," Risch said.

"We asked ... him for an update and we got it on the war, on the release of the hostages and in the efforts to defeat Hamas. We told him Israel has every right to defend themselves and he said that's exactly what they continue to do," Senator John Barrasso said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Netanyahu had made a presentation and then taken questions from senators.

"I made it clear to him, that it's not the business of the United States to be giving a democratic ally advice about when to have an election or what kind of military campaign they may be conducting," McConnell told reporters, according to Reuters.

Netanyahu spoke to the Republican lawmakers via videolink during their regular lunch meeting. Netanyahu was slated to talk with Republicans during their policy retreat last week, but that plan fell through. Axios reported on Tuesday that both times he has been invited by Barrasso, the third-ranked Senate Republican.

The Prime Minister’s discussion with the Republicans come nearly a week after the Senate's Democratic majority leader, Chuck Schumer, gave a speech branding Netanyahu an obstacle to peace and urging new elections in Israel.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Wednesday that Netanyahu had also requested to address Senate Democrats at their caucus lunch, but was denied by Schumer.

A spokesperson for the Democratic Senator told Axios that the request was declined because Schumer "does not think these discussions should happen in a partisan manner."

Netanyahu’s virtual meeting with the Republican lawmakers also came amid growing tension between President Joe Biden and Netanyahu. While Biden was initially supportive of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, he has changed his tone recently.

During a recent interview with MSNBC, Biden said that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would be a red line but also said in the same breath that crossing it would not result in punitive measures against Israel.

“It is a red line, but I am never going to leave Israel,” Biden said. “The defense of Israel is still critical, so there’s no red line I’m going to cut off all weapons.”

He also criticized Netanyahu and asserted that the Prime Minister “hurts Israel more than he protects” it.

Netanyahu later responded to Biden, telling Politico, "I don't know exactly what the President meant, but if he meant by that that I'm pursuing private policies against the majority, the wish of the majority of Israelis, and that this is hurting the interests of Israel, then he's wrong on both counts."

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan subsequently tried to walk back Biden’s comments.

“The President didn't make any declarations or pronouncements or announcements. The red line came up in a question he was responding to that question. I think he gave a full answer to it,” Sullivan told reporters.