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Biden and Netanyahu's fraught relationship hits new low after U.S. pauses weapons shipment

"It's definitely an earthquake."

That's how American diplomat Richard Haass described the stunning declaration by U.S. President Joe Biden that his administration would stop supplying certain weapons to Israel if it went ahead with a planned invasion of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

"This was building up for a while, and Rafah was the straw that broke the camel's back," Haass, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations and policy advisor during the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"There's real skepticism in the administration that Rafah will bring about a deal for the hostages, like the Israelis have been saying."

The last several weeks have seen a fraught back and forth between Israel and Hamas and the Qatari, Egyptian and American mediators trying to come up with a deal that will allow a cease-fire between the warring parties and a release of the hostages still held by the Palestinian militant group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long pushed for an invasion of Rafah — Gaza's southernmost city where more than a million displaced Palestinians are sheltering — saying that it's essential to defeating Hamas and winning the war.

Numerous governments and humanitarian aid organizations including the United Nations and the WHO have warned of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of an invasion in the overcrowded enclave that's already been ravaged by military strikes, disease and famine.

"I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven't gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem," Biden said in an interview with