All Israel

Netanyahu says US-Israel tensions hinder hostage deal efforts amid Gaza war

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, on the eve of Israel's 76th independence day, May 13, 2024. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Perceived tensions in the U.S.-Israel relationship have complicated Israel’s efforts to reach a hostage deal with Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview released on Sunday.

“That perception certainly doesn’t help the hostage situation, certainly doesn’t help stabilize the Middle East,” Netanyahu told host Dan Senor on the Call Me Back podcast, recorded shortly before Israel's Memorial Day and Independence Day ceremonies. “It gives succor to Iran and its henchmen. But it means that we have to apply the pressure even more.”

Netanyahu did not comment on the actual state of relations between Washington and Israel.

Relations between Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden have reached an all-time low in recent weeks as the White House warned that the transfer of artillery and other weaponry could be suspended if Netanyahu moves forward with a widescale operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israeli troops are expanding their limited incursion into Gaza’s southern border area to eliminate the remaining battalions of Hamas terrorists.

Speaking about the accusation that the prime minister has not prioritized hostage negotiations, Netanyahu said, “The charge is malicious. It’s false,” he said.

Netanyahu vowed that pressure from allies would not stop him from achieving Israel’s goal of eliminating the Hamas terror group.

“What do you do when you’re faced with such international pressure?” Netanyahu asked rhetorically. “I can say that in Israel’s history when faced with this kind of pressure, the leaders did what they had to do.”

Netanyahu emphasized that he deeply appreciates the support Israel has received from Biden but said, “If we have to stand alone, we will do so, because I’m the prime minister of Israel, the one and only Jewish state, and we will not go down.”

“Israel will fight, if necessary, with our fingernails,” he said, a message he communicated to Biden in their last phone call.

Netanyahu argued on the podcast that “the fate of the world depends on where America goes.” 

“Does it succumb to this madness, to this mobocracy in those campuses, to this flagrant antisemitism that is sweeping the globe?”

“These crowds, mobs, in American universities, they burn the Israeli flag and they burn the American flag. They chant: ‘Death to Israel, death to America.’ So, we’re fighting a common battle, a battle between civilization and barbarism.”

Netanyahu went on to say that the ratio of Hamas combatants to Gazan civilians killed was roughly 1-to-1.

“Fourteen thousand have been killed, combatants and, probably around 16,000 civilians have been killed,” he said.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, 35,000 people have been killed due to the fighting in the Strip so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

International pressure on Israel to bring about a ceasefire amid the mounting death toll in Gaza has grown increasingly strong and the Biden administration has criticized Israel for the high civilian toll.

Netanyahu said that condemnation of Israel’s conduct of the war is contradictory to supporting Israel’s right to go after Hamas: “You cannot say that you support the right of Israel to defend itself and then condemn it when it seeks to exercise that right.”

He added that the military campaign in Gaza will continue for a long time in order to prevent Hamas from reemerging.

“You don’t have to reoccupy it,” he said of Gaza. “You just have to demilitarize it actively. And you know, the distances are so small. So you go in, you go out. Or you remain where you have to be.”

The prime minister said the next stage would be to find another civil administration in Gaza.

He hopes to use locals unaffiliated with Hamas while garnering support from the Arab states but said first Hamas needs to be defeated.

“No one’s going to come in until they know that you either destroyed Hamas, or you’re about to destroy Hamas. And that’s a certainty. Because if they think Hamas is going to emerge from the rubble and retake Gaza, they’re not going to commit suicide.”

Netanyahu also said the expansion of the Abraham Accords is on the horizon once Hamas is eliminated. While Israel’s current and potential Arab partners have publicly criticized the war in Gaza, Israeli officials say they have been more supportive of the effort behind the scenes.

“Victory is not when every last Hamas fighter disappears, but when we vanquish them, destroy their organized battalions, and mop up the remaining places, and that’s going to take some time, but we can do it,” he said.

“We’re actually quite close to achieving that. We’re very close to achieving the destruction of the remaining Hamas battalions.”

“This war could be over tomorrow. If Hamas lays down its arms, surrenders, returns the hostages, the war is over.” Netanyahu said. “It’s up to them.”

He added, “The idea of exile is there. We can always discuss it. But I think the most important thing is surrender.

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

All Israel
Receive latest news & updates
    A message from All Israel News
    Help us educate Christians on a daily basis about what is happening in Israel & the Middle East and why it matters.
    For as little as $5, you can support ALL ISRAEL NEWS, a non-profit media organization that is supported by readers like you.
    Donate to ALL ISRAEL NEWS
    Popular Articles
    Latest Stories