Netanyahu Reaffirms Goal to Destroy Hamas


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed that Israel’s main goal in the Gaza conflict is the “elimination of Hamas,” following President Joe Biden’s public disclosure of the latest ceasefire proposal on the table.

Netanyahu’s statement on Monday suggests a possible departure from Biden’s outline, highlighting the unique circumstance of a U.S. president publicly announcing an Israeli proposal amid the prime minister’s internal political pressures.

“Therefore, we have gone a long way to return [the hostages] while adhering to the objectives of the war, first and foremost the elimination of Hamas,” Netanyahu stated. “We are insistent that we will achieve both. This is part of the outline, not something that I have just added. It is not something that I have added because of coalition pressure. This is something that we agreed on in the War Cabinet unanimously.”

The three-phase plan Biden described would follow earlier ceasefire proposals, beginning with a six-week ceasefire, the return of women, children, and other vulnerable hostages; the release of “hundreds” of Palestinian prisoners; withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated areas of Gaza; and an influx of humanitarian aid into the strip.

The proposal lacks specific details for the second phase, many of which would be negotiated during the first phase, but it would include releasing all remaining living Israeli hostages and withdrawing all Israeli forces from Gaza.

“Then phase two: There would be an exchange for the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers; Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza; and as long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, a temporary ceasefire would become, in the words of the Israeli proposal, ‘the cessation of hostilities permanently,’” Biden explained.

Biden’s portrayal of the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza appears to contrast with previous statements by Netanyahu and other Israeli officials about not ending the war before destroying Hamas militarily and removing them from power, although there isn’t a clear standard for gauging the success of the former.

“The claims that we have agreed to a ceasefire without our conditions being met are incorrect,” Netanyahu informed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to his office.

The administration doesn’t usually discuss specific details regarding various ceasefire proposals, but they did for this one.

“We don’t typically go through the details of these kinds of proposals, but in this case, given where we are, given how much longer the hostages have now been held, given the fact that Hamas has reneged on several past occasions on proposals that were sent to them, and given the fact that Israelis really did work hard to come up with this proposal, and did so in good faith, the president felt it was important for the first time to publicly lay that out,” National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said on Monday.

The president also unveiled a new U.S. assessment that Hamas is no longer capable of executing another Oct. 7 attack due to Israel’s success thus far in the war. Hamas killed approximately 1,200 people during the Oct. 7 attack and kidnapped another 250.

“At this point, Hamas no longer is capable of carrying out another Oct. 7, which — one of the Israelis’ main objectives in this war and, quite frankly, a righteous one,” Biden stated. “I know there are those in Israel who will not agree with this plan and will call for the war to continue indefinitely.”

A possible rift between Biden and Netanyahu is whether preventing another Oct. 7 is sufficient if it doesn’t entail the complete annihilation of the terrorist group.

While the U.S. assesses Hamas can’t carry out that type of attack again, last week, Hamas launched several rockets at Tel Aviv for the first time in months. Israel’s military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from Rafah and “a number” were intercepted. Israeli troops destroyed the launcher.

Netanyahu faces a challenging decision over whether to advance this ceasefire proposal if Hamas accepts the terms. The ultranationalist members of his ruling coalition have threatened to withdraw and topple the government, potentially triggering early elections if Israel proceeds with the deal as currently structured.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid has offered a “safety net” to maintain the government in power to achieve a ceasefire deal, but doing so would also allow Lapid to force early elections once the deal is implemented, if he chooses.

Netanyahu confronts a looming charge as a war criminal from the International Criminal Court and corruption allegations that predate the war as well.

Mike Brest
Mike Brest
Defense Reporter. Prior to joining the defense beat, he spent two years covering breaking news, and he worked at the Daily Caller in a similar capacity before that. Mike graduated from American University and is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia.

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