Israel and its closest ally, the US, seemed to be in a disagreement on Thursday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined the prospect of Palestinian statehood that did not guarantee his nation’s security. During a combative press briefing, he also vowed to resist the US on this matter.
“I clarify that in any arrangement in the foreseeable future, with an accord or without an accord, Israel must have security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River. That’s a necessary condition. It clashes with the principle of sovereignty, but what can you do,” the Israeli premier told the news briefing in Tel Aviv.
The US, meanwhile, responded by saying that there is “no way” to solve Israel’s long-term security challenges in the region and the short-term challenges of rebuilding the Gaza Strip without the establishment of a Palestinian state.
US State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller said that Israel had an opportunity now as countries in the region were ready to offer security assurances to Israel. “But there is no way to solve their long-term challenges to provide lasting security and there is no way to solve the short-term challenges of rebuilding Gaza and establishing governance in Gaza and providing security for Gaza without the establishment of a Palestinian state,” he told a news briefing.
Here are latest developments in the Israel-Hamas war:
- Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments on declining Palestinian statehood came after he reportedly said the same to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Israel last week. Nonetheless, Netanyahu said the lack of Palestinian statehood had not come in the way of normalisation agreements with Arab states in the past, and asserted that his stance now would not prevent Israel from expanding the circle of peace by adding more countries to those accords, “along with our American friends”.
- The Israeli Prime Minister also refuted the claims of hiding details of an arrangement to deliver medicines to Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, pulling out – what he claimed – was a memo by Mossad chief David Barnea laying out the details of the deal, which was sent to Gallant’s office.He also denied allowing the medicines to be sent without a security check, insisting that the minute he heard of that possibility, he “took responsibility” and ordered the shipments be checked, irrespective of Hamas accepting the same. Netanyahu further said that Israel is only permitting humanitarian aid in the “absolute minimum” quantity necessary to avert a crisis, The Times of Israel reported.
- Israeli President Issac Herzog, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, said that Israelis are unable to think about a “peace process” with the Palestinians right now. “If you ask an average Israeli now about his or her mental state, nobody in his right mind is willing now to think about what will be the solution of the peace agreements,” he added, alongside a photo of Kfir Bibas, the youngest hostage taken into Gaza by Hamas after their October 7 attack.Bibas, who the Hamas claimed was killed along with his mother and brother in an Israeli strike, turned one on Thursday – if he is still alive.
- Israeli War Cabinet Minister Gadi Eisenkot criticised Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to entirely uproot Hamas, suggesting such rhetoric is unrealistic. In a television interview, he added that whoever “speaks of absolute defeat” is not saying the truth. He also said that elections in Israel should be held in the forthcoming months to renew the public’s trust in its leadership.His comments in the interview, which was taken several weeks before but aired in the programme Thursday, came after Netanyahu dismissed the idea of holding polls amid the Gaza war, stressing it could easily spill over to 2025, The Times of Israel reported.
- Families of several Israeli hostages blocked Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway on Thursday, with the number ‘136’ lit up on fire to highlight the number of captives still remaining in Gaza. “The time for the hostages is up. If the government that abandoned them is not able to promote a deal immediately, let it be replaced by one that hasn’t,” the Hostages Family Forum said in a statement.
- Israeli Cabinet Minister and former military chief Gadi Eizenkot told Israel’s Channel 12 on Thursday that he prevented Israel from preemptively attacking Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon in the days after Hamas’s October 7 attack, Reuters reported. He added that he convinced Israeli war cabinet officials to hold off the attack. Notably, Eizenkot’s youngest son was killed in battle in the Gaza Strip last month.
- US President Joe Biden-led administration is asking Israel for clarifications on viral footage that purportedly showed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) blowing up Palestine University’s main campus building in the Gaza Strip. US State Department spokesman Mathew Miller said he does not have enough information to comment on the matter further but noted that Hamas regularly uses civilian infrastructure for military reasons, The Times of Israel reported.
- Israel has so far destroyed nearly two-thirds of Hamas’s fighting regiments in Gaza, Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, vowing “many more months” in the war until “complete victory”. “There are two stages to the fighting; the first is destroying the Hamas regiments. Those are their organised combat frameworks. Up until now, 16 or 17 out of 24 have been destroyed. After that there is the (stage) of clearing the territory (of militants). The first action is usually shorter, the second usually takes longer,” he added.
- Fierce battle raged on Khan Younis in southern part of Gaza on Thursday. This is the site that have been sheltering several people who fled the north earlier. Residents of Khan Younis described intense fighting and bombardment in the north and east of the city, and, for the first time, in the west, where they witnessed tanks had advanced to conduct a raid before withdrawing, Reuters reported.
- The health ministry of Gaza, which is run by Hamas, said that more than 24,000 Palestinians have died so far in the ongoing conflict. Meanwhile, the United Nations said a quarter of the 2.3 million people trapped in the enclave are starving, the Associated Press reported.
Source: India Today