Jerusalem (AP) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu On Thursday, he rejected calls from the United States to scale back Israel's military assault on the Gaza Strip or take steps toward establishing a post-war Palestinian state, drawing immediate criticism from the White House.
The back-and-forth tension reflects what has become a widespread disagreement between the two allies over the scope of the matter Israel war And its plans for the future of the besieged area.
“Obviously we see it differently,” said John Kirby, White House national security spokesman.
Netanyahu spoke just one day after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made a statement about Israel There will never be “true security.” without The path towards Palestinian independence. Earlier this week, the White House made the announcement as well It was “the right time.” Israel must reduce the intensity of its devastating military attack on Gaza.
In a nationally televised news conference, Netanyahu struck a defiant tone, repeatedly saying that Israel would not stop its offensive until it achieved its goals of destroying the Hamas militant group in Gaza and returning all remaining hostages held by Hamas.
He rejected claims by a growing group of Israeli critics that these goals were unachievable, and pledged to press ahead for several months. “We will not settle for anything less than absolute victory,” Netanyahu said.
Israel launched the attack after an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas On October 7th Which resulted in the killing of 1,200 people and the holding of about 250 others hostage. Israel believes that approximately 130 hostages remain in Hamas captivity. The war has raised tensions across the region, threatening to ignite other conflicts.
israel aggression, One of the bloodiest and most destructive military campaigns In recent history, it has killed nearly 25,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities, caused widespread destruction and uprooted more than 80% of the enclave's 2.3 million residents from their homes.
The high cost of the war has led to increased calls from the international community to stop the offensive. After initially providing blanket support to Israel in the early days of the war, the United States, Israel's closest ally, began to voice its concerns and urged Netanyahu to clarify his vision for post-war Gaza.
The United States said the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, which governs semi-autonomous areas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, should be “activated” and returned to Gaza. Hamas expelled the Authority from Gaza in 2007.
The United States also called for steps toward establishing a Palestinian state. The Palestinians seek to establish their state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel occupied these areas in 1967.
This came during a speech he delivered on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Blinken said the two-state solution This was the best way to protect Israel, unite moderate Arab countries and isolate Israel's arch enemy, Iran.
He said that without “a path leading to a Palestinian state,” Israel would not “obtain real security.”
At the same conference, the Saudi Foreign Minister said that the Kingdom was ready to establish full relations with Israel as part of a larger political agreement. He added: “But this can only happen through peace for the Palestinians, through the Palestinian state.”
Netanyahu, who leads a far-right government opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, reiterated his continued opposition to the two-state solution. He said that the Palestinian state would become a starting point for attacks on Israel.
He said that Israel “must have security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River,” adding: “This contradicts the idea of sovereignty. What can we do?”
He said: “I say this truth to our American friends, and stop trying to force us into a reality that would endanger the State of Israel.”
These comments sparked an immediate rebuke from the White House. Kirby said President Joe Biden “will not stop working” toward a two-state solution.
Before October 7, Israeli society was deeply divided over Netanyahu's plan for judicial reform. Since the attack, the country has rallied behind the war. But divisions are beginning to surface again over Netanyahu's handling of the war.
The hostages' families and many of their supporters called for a new ceasefire that could bring them home. Hamas released more than 100 hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners during the period A week-long ceasefire in November.
Dozens of people attended a sad gathering in Tel Aviv in solidarity with a family Kfir Bibas, the youngest Israeli hostageOn the occasion of his first birthday. The red-haired baby and his 4-year-old brother, Ariel, were taken hostage along with their mother, Sherri, and father, Yarden. The four are still in captivity.
Commentators have begun to question whether Netanyahu's goals are realistic, given the slow pace of the attack and mounting international criticism, including Charges of genocide in the United Nations World CourtThis is something Israel strongly denies.
Netanyahu's opponents accuse him of delaying any discussion of post-war scenarios to avoid imminent investigations into government failures, preserve his coalition and postpone elections. Opinion polls show that the popularity of Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges, declined during the war.
Medicines intended for hostages enter Gaza
There was no news Thursday on whether the medicines that entered the Palestinian territories as part of a deal brokered by France and Qatar had been distributed to dozens of hostages suffering from chronic diseases held by Hamas.
This agreement is the first reached between the warring parties since November. The deal includes large shipments of medicine, food and humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians as well.
Qatar confirmed late Wednesday that the medicine 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 facilitate the hostage release, said it was not involved in distributing the medicine.
Fighting in Gaza
Hamas continued to fight across Gaza, Even in the most affected areasLaunching missiles at Israel. It says it will not release more hostages until a permanent ceasefire is reached, which Israel and the United States, its major ally, have ruled out.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians responded to Israeli evacuation orders and crowded into southern Gaza, where UN-run shelters were filled and huge camps were set up.
Israel has continued to strike what it says are militant targets throughout Gaza, often resulting in the deaths of women and children. Early Thursday, medics said an Israeli air strike on a house killed 16 people, half of them children, in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Israel blames the high civilian death toll on Hamas because it is fighting in dense residential areas. Israel says that its forces killed about nine thousand militants without providing evidence, and that 193 of its soldiers were killed since the start of the ground attack on Gaza.
The Israeli military said on Thursday that it had destroyed the “heart” of Hamas' weapons industry near a main north-south road in central Gaza. She added that the complex includes weapons factories and a vast network of tunnels used to ship weapons throughout Gaza.
The echo of war reverberates throughout the region
The war spread throughout the Middle EastWith Iranian-backed groups attacking American and Israeli targets. Low-intensity fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon Threatened to enter into an all-out warAnd the Houthi rebels in Yemen Stay on target International shipping Despite the US-led air strikes.
The Israeli military said it fired an interceptor missile at a “suspicious air target” — likely a drone or missile — approaching over the Red Sea on Thursday, setting off sirens in the southern city of Eilat. The Houthis fired Drones and missiles towards Israel Which mostly failed or were intercepted and shot down.
At the same time, Iran launched a series of missile attacks targeting what it described as an Israeli spy base in Iraq and militant bases in Syria.
Jobin reported from Rafah, Gaza Strip, and Jeffrey reported from London. Associated Press writer Basem Marwa in Beirut contributed to this report.
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