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Netanyahu clarifies: Israel committed to Biden’s hostage deal proposal, position hasn’t changed

PM comes under attack after appearing to walk back deal offer

Israelis walk past a mural of photographs of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza since Oct. 7, in Tel Aviv, June 23, 2024. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reiterated Israel's commitment to the hostage deal proposal presented by U.S. President Joe Biden after some comments during a TV interview were interpreted as a rejection of the proposal.

During a Knesset discussion, Netanyahu clarified: “We will not end the war until we return all of our hostages – 120 hostages, the living and the deceased. We are committed to the Israeli proposal, which President Biden has welcomed. Our position has not changed.”

The confusion began when Netanyahu told Channel 14 that he is willing to negotiate a partial agreement for the release of some captives, but crucially, not one that forces Israel to end the war.

“We are required to continue the war after the ceasefire to complete the war goal of defeating Hamas,” Netanyahu said.

The offer presented by Biden at the end of May and confirmed by the UN Security Council calls for a ceasefire and a hostage deal in the first phase before discussions about the details of a second phase commence.

In his initial response, Netanyahu welcomed the offer but cautioned that Israel would not agree to a permanent ceasefire before defeating Hamas in Gaza.

Responding to the comments, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller suggested Netanyahu may have misspoken and thanked him for the clarification.

“I think all of us who speak publicly at times make mistakes… and when we do so, we have an obligation to come and clarify, and we’re glad he did,” Miller said.

Following Netanyahu’s comments to Channel 14, Hamas responded that the prime minister's response revealed that Israel remained opposed to the UN Security Council (UNSC) decision and did not support the Biden proposal.

Axios News reported that Qatari officials requested clarifications and were frustrated by Netanyahu’s remarks, “especially after they have been working day and night” to mediate the negotiations.

In a message to Hamas through Egypt and Qatar, Israel later stressed it remained committed to the proposal, according to Axios, citing a senior member of the Israeli negotiation team.

Netanyahu was criticized by the Knesset opposition over the prime minister's comments during a fiery session on Monday.

National Unity Knesset Member Gadi Eisenkot, who recently exited the War Cabinet with Benny Gantz, condemned Netanyahu's remarks, saying: “Perhaps this is an outburst, perhaps it is a thought. I think it requires clarification, given the emotional upheaval it causes to the families of the abductees and the harm to them.”

“Of course, this is a failure to achieve the goals of the war. This is a fatal injury to the national strength of the State of Israel. There are soldiers who are fighting now, they have a war objective to return the hostages and, therefore, an immediate clarification from the prime minister is required.”

Netanyahu later delivered the clarification but emphasized he also remained committed to the stated goals of the war.

“We are not willing to compromise on less than a total victory over the murderers of Hamas. We have struck down thousands of them. We are hounding their leaders. We will continue to do so until we eliminate Hamas's military and governing capabilities.”

“Until we return our 120 hostages, both living and deceased. Until we ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat against Israel. And until we return the residents of the south and the north safely to their homes. Nothing will stop us.”

“We are in a fight for our existence, a fight being conducted on seven fronts. The attack against us is being led by Iran, which openly seeks to destroy us.”

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

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