JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rejected U.S. calls to scale back Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip or take steps to establish a Palestinian state after the war.
The tense back-and-forth reflects a widening rift between the two allies Israel's war and its plans for the future of the affected territory.
“We see it differently,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.
Netanyahu spoke a day after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Israel There will never be “true security”. Without The Road to Palestinian Independence. Earlier this week, the White House also announced the same It's “The Right Time” Israel must scale back its devastating military offensive in Gaza.
In a nationally televised news conference, Netanyahu repeatedly said Israel would not stop its offensive until Gaza's Hamas militant group was destroyed and the remaining hostages held by Hamas were brought home.
He rejected mounting claims by Israeli critics that those goals were unattainable, pledging to move forward for months. “We will not be satisfied with anything less than complete victory,” Netanyahu said.
Israel launched the offensive after an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas On October 7 It killed 1,200 people and took 250 hostages. Israel believes approximately 130 hostages are being held by Hamas. The war has fueled tensions across the region and threatens to trigger other conflicts.
Israel's attack One of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns In recent history, nearly 25,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza health officials, causing widespread destruction and uprooting 80% of the territory's 2.3 million people from their homes.
The staggering cost of the war led to increasing calls from the international community to halt the offensive. After giving Israel wall-to-wall support in the early days of the war, the United States, Israel's closest ally, began to express doubts and urged Netanyahu to spell out his vision for a post-war Gaza.
The United States has said the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, which governs the semi-autonomous territories in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, should be “revitalized” and returned to Gaza. Hamas wrested power from Gaza in 2007.
The US has also called for steps to establish a Palestinian state. Palestinians seek Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem for their state. Israel captured those areas in 1967.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday, Blinken said a two-state solution was the best way to protect Israel, unite moderate Arab states and isolate Israel's arch-enemy, Iran.
Israel, he said, would have “no real security” without a “pathway to a Palestinian state”.
At the same conference, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said he was ready to establish full ties with Israel as part of a larger political deal. “But that can only happen through peace for the Palestinians, through a Palestinian state,” he said.
Netanyahu, who leads a far-right government opposed to Palestinian statehood, has reiterated his longstanding opposition to a two-state solution. He said the country of Palestine would become a launching pad for attacks on Israel.
Israel should have “security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River,” he said, adding: “This clashes with the idea of sovereignty. What can we do?”
“I tell our American friends this truth, and I put the brakes on trying to force us into a reality that endangers the state of Israel,” he said.
The comments prompted immediate condemnation from the White House. President Joe Biden “will not stop working” toward a two-state solution, Kirby said.
Before October 7, Israeli society was sharply divided over Netanyahu's plan for judicial reform. After the attack, the country rallied behind the war. But divisions are beginning to re-emerge over Netanyahu's handling of the war.
The hostages' families and many of their supporters have called for a new ceasefire that could bring them home. Hamas released 100 hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire in November.
Dozens of people attended a quiet rally in Tel Aviv in solidarity with the family of the youngest Israeli hostage, Kaffir Bibas, to mark his first birthday. The red-haired child and her 4-year-old brother, Ariel, were taken hostage along with their mother, Shiri, and their father, Yarden. All four have been captured.
UN Given the slow pace of the attack and growing international criticism, including genocide charges at the World Court, commentators have begun to question whether Netanyahu's intentions are realistic, something Israel vehemently denies.
Netanyahu's opponents accuse him of delaying any discussion of the post-war situation to avoid investigations into the government's failures, keep his coalition intact and postpone elections. Opinion polls suggest Netanyahu's popularity has plummeted during the war, under investigation on corruption charges.
Medicines bound for hostages enter Gaza
There was no word Thursday on whether the drugs, which entered the border as part of a deal brokered by France and Qatar, had been distributed to dozens of hostages with chronic illnesses held by Hamas.
It was the first deal brokered between the warring sides since November. The deal includes major shipments of medicine, food and humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians.
Qatar confirmed on Wednesday that the drug had entered Gaza, but it was not yet clear whether it had been distributed to hostages held in secret locations, including underground bunkers.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which helped free the hostages, said it was not involved in the supply of drugs.
Fighting in Gaza
Hamas continues to fight throughout Gaza. Even in the most devastated areas, and launch rockets into Israel. It says it will not release any more hostages until there is a permanent ceasefire, something Israel and its key ally the United States have rejected.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have heeded Israeli evacuation orders and flocked to southern Gaza, where United Nations-run shelters are overflowing and massive tent camps have risen.
Israel continues to attack what it says are militant targets throughout Gaza, killing mostly women and children. Early Thursday, an Israeli airstrike on a house in the southern Gaza city of Rafah killed 16 people, doctors said, half of them children.
Israel blames heavy civilian casualties on Hamas fighting in densely populated areas. Israel says its forces have killed about 9,000 fighters, without providing evidence, and that 193 of its own soldiers have been killed since the Gaza ground offensive began.
On Thursday, the Israeli military said it had destroyed the “heart” of Hamas' weapons manufacturing facility near a major north-south road in central Gaza. It said the complex included weapons factories and an extensive network of tunnels used to ship weapons across Gaza.
The battle reverberates across the region
A wave of war swept across the Middle East, Iranian-backed groups attack US and Israeli targets. Less intense fighting between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon threatens to erupt into all-out warand Houthi rebels in Yemen Constantly aim International shipping Despite US-led airstrikes.
The Israeli military said it hit a “suspicious aerial target” — a drone or missile — approaching the Red Sea on Thursday, triggering airstrike sirens in the southern city of Eilat. The Houthis have started Drones and missiles at Israel It was mostly missed or intercepted and shot down.
Meanwhile, Iran launched a series of missile strikes targeting Israeli spy bases in Iraq and terrorist bases in Syria.
Rafa, Jobain from the Gaza Strip and Geoffrey from London report. Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.
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