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‘Huge reward for terrorism’ – Israel opposes Palestinian state, Netanyahu tells Biden

Leaders talk Gaza War, hostage deal, Rafah offensive and humanitarian aid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 2, 2023. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL

The State of Israel rejects the notion that a Palestinian state should be imposed on Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Joe Biden in a 40-minute phone conversation on Thursday night.

The leaders, whose relations have deteriorated over the past months discussed the negotiations over a new hostage release deal, the humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli military operation, specifically the planned operation in Rafah, which the Biden administration has opposed.

Biden “reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah,” according to the White House.

They also discussed “the urgency of ensuring that humanitarian assistance is able to get to Palestinian civilians in desperate need.”

Following the phone call, which came during a meeting with CIA Director William Burns, as well as during meetings with the War Cabinet and Security Cabinet, Netanyahu released a late-night statement “regarding the recent talk of imposing a Palestinian state on Israel.”

“Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Such an arrangement will be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions,” Netanyahu said.

“Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.”

Several of the prime minister’s coalition members were outraged after a Washington Post report suggested that the United States was working on a plan for a long-term ceasefire in Gaza that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The two leaders last spoke on Sunday, when Biden pushed Netanyahu to attempt to close the gaps between Israel’s position and Hamas’ demands regarding a new hostage release deal, according to the Axios news outlet.

Netanyahu has called Hamas’ demands “delusional,” and refused to send another Israeli delegation to Cairo to continue the talks after a Tuesday meeting between American, Egyptian, Qatari and Israeli officials ended without any breakthrough.

The once close relationship between Biden and Netanyahu has reportedly markedly deteriorated, reaching a boiling point during a Dec. 28 phone call after a tense exchange of words regarding the increasing number of civilian casualties in Gaza.

Biden reportedly urged Netanyahu to shift the war to a less intensive phase and became so upset that he was almost shouting before he declared the conversation was “over” and hung up.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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