Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly rejected calls from the United States on Thursday to reduce Israel’s incursion into Gaza or take steps toward establishing a Palestinian state after the conflict, leading to a rebuke from the White House. The discord highlights a significant divergence between the allies regarding the extent of Israel’s military operation and its plans for the future of the troubled region.
In response to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that Israel cannot achieve “genuine security” without a path to Palestinian independence, Netanyahu, in a televised news conference, maintained a defiant stance. He emphasized that Israel would not cease its offensive until it achieved its objectives of dismantling Hamas and repatriating all remaining hostages.
The conflict began with an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7, resulting in 1,200 casualties and 250 hostages. The war has escalated tensions in the region and posed a threat to triggering additional conflicts. Israel’s extensive assault, one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in recent history, has claimed the lives of nearly 25,000 Palestinian civilians, displaced over 80% of Gaza’s population, and caused widespread destruction.
Despite initially offering unwavering support during the early stages of the war, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, has started expressing reservations. The U.S. urged Netanyahu to articulate his vision for postwar Gaza and proposed revitalizing the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, extending its governance to Gaza.
Secretary Blinken emphasized that a “pathway to a Palestinian state” is essential for Israel to attain genuine security. Concurrently, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, at the same conference, expressed the kingdom’s readiness to establish full relations with Israel as part of a broader political agreement, contingent upon peace for the Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state.