Netanyahu's Comments Prompt 'Rebuke' From White House

Israeli PM says two-state solution is an absolute no-go
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 19, 2024 12:00 AM CST
Netanyahu's Comments Prompt 'Scolding' From White House
Demonstrators hold orange balloons at a rally in solidarity with Kfir Bibas, an Israeli boy who spent his first birthday Thursday in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.   (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rejected US calls to scale back Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip or take steps toward the establishment of a Palestinian state after the war, drawing an immediate scolding from the White House, the AP reports. The tense back and forth reflected what has become a wide rift between the two allies over the scope of Israel's war and its plans for the future of the beleaguered territory. "We obviously see it differently," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

Netanyahu spoke just a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel would never have "genuine security" without a pathway toward Palestinian independence. Earlier this week, the White House also announced that it was the "right time" for Israel to lower the intensity of its devastating military offensive in Gaza. In a nationally televised news conference, Netanyahu struck a defiant tone, repeatedly saying that Israel would not halt its offensive until it realizes its goals of destroying Gaza's Hamas militant group and bringing home all remaining hostages held by Hamas. He rejected claims by a growing chorus of Israeli critics that those goals are not achievable, vowing to press ahead for many months. "We will not settle for anything short of an absolute victory," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu, who leads a far-right government opposed to Palestinian statehood, repeated his longstanding opposition to a two-state solution. He said a Palestinian state would become a launching pad for attacks on Israel. He said Israel "must have security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River," adding: "That collides with the idea of sovereignty. What can we do?" "This truth I tell to our American friends, and I put the brakes on the attempt to coerce us to a reality that would endanger the state of Israel," he said. The comments prompted an immediate rebuke from the White House. Kirby said that President Joe Biden would "not stop working" toward a two-state solution.

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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