Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ demands for a ceasefire, which included a full withdrawal of IDF from Gaza and the release of at least 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, calling the proposal “delusional.”
“Surrender to Hamas’s delusional demands, that we’ve just heard, not only would not bring about the freedom of the hostages, but it would only invite an additional slaughter; it would invite disaster for Israel that no Israeli citizens want,” Netanyahu said.
Instead Netanyahu repeated his insistence on “total victory”, which has been criticised by pundits as an empty political slogan.
“Total victory over Hamas will not take years. It will take months. Victory is within reach. When people talk about ‘the day after,’ let’s be clear about one thing. It’s the day after all of Hamas is destroyed. Not half of Hamas, not ¾ of Hamas; all of Hamas.”
“Once Hamas is destroyed, we need to verify that Gaza is demilitarised, that we stamp out any attempt at the resurgence of terror. History has shown that only Israel can do this by having overriding security control over Gaza,” he added.
Netanyahu said that Israel will need to be in Gaza or “act in Gaza at any place and any time that is necessary to ensure that terror doesn’t rears its ugly head again.”
Israel will, however, not be responsible for the civil administration of the more than two million Palestinians in Gaza.
“Gaza must have a civilian administration staffed with those who do not support terrorism, fund terrorism or indoctrinate their children with terrorism and the goal of destroying Israel. In fact, we should seek the very opposite–that school children in Gaza will be educated towards peace, that they’ll be educated towards coexistence,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also repeated his call for “moderate” Arab states to “create a different and better future for Gaza”, although none of them have so far committed to anything specific other than financial help.
UNRWA, which is currently being investigated after Israel accused 12 of its staff members of taking part in the October 7 massacre, must be replaced, Netanyahu said.
“This would also require that UNRWA—which perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem, whose schools indoctrinate Palestinian children with genocide and terror, and from whose ranks sprang a dozen terrorist murderers who participated in the October 7th massacre—this UNRWA must be replaced by responsible aid agencies.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel and the West Bank, meeting with both Netanyahu and PA President Abbas.
Blinken reiterated Washington’s concerns about the civilian casualties in Gaza, calling on Israel not to “dehumanise” the Palestinians.
“Israelis were dehumanised in the most horrific way on October 7, ”said Blinken in prepared remarks at a Tel Aviv press conference. “The hostages have been dehumanised every day since. But that cannot be a license to dehumanise others,” he said.
“The overwhelming majority of people in Gaza had nothing to do with the attacks of October 7. The families in Gaza whose survival depends on deliveries of aid from Israel are just like our families. They’re mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, who want to earn a decent living, send their kids to school, have a normal life. That’s who they are. That’s what they want,” he added.
As for the ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas, Blinken said that while there are some “clear nonstarters in Hamas’s response, we do think it creates space for agreement to be reached. And we will work at that relentlessly until we get there.”
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