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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the door shut on President Biden’s new appeal urging both Israel and Hamas to accept the new ceasefire plan set before both sides. As we detailed earlier, Biden’s Friday afternoon speech was mostly about pressuring Israel to end the war. The message was clear at a moment the Democratic president faces dissent and pushback from his base headed into a tight November election: “I urge Israel to stand behind this deal, despite whatever pressure comes,” he emphasized.

But coming a mere hours later, Netanyahu has made it clear there will be no permanent ceasefire in Gaza until Hamas is completely eradicated. He went so far as to say the current deal being pushed hard by the White House is a “non-starter”.

“Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place. The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter,” he added.

Remarking on the significance, Times of Israel observed that “His comments, in a rare statement published on the Sabbath and only in English, came after United States President Joe Biden announced Friday that Israel had proposed a three-phase deal for a ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for Hamas releasing hostages, told the terror group to accept it and urged the Israeli government to stand behind it.”

Much of Biden’s speech had appeared geared toward convincing Netanyahu and the Israeli public to not drift into the more hardline positions of hawkish officials like Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. Biden had even claimed Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out an Oct.7-style terror attack again.

He had said in the major televised address: “I know there are those in Israel who will not agree with this plan and will call for the war to continue indefinitely. Some are even in the government coalition. They’ve made it clear they want to occupy Gaza, they want to keep fighting for years, the hostages are not a priority for them.”

Well… this grand White House ‘pressure’ initiative didn’t even last a full 24-hours…

This has also been a message of the ongoing anti-Netanyahu protests in Tel Aviv led by the hostage victims’ families. But Netanyahu’s office had made it clear right away that Israel’s military policy would not be dictated from Washington (despite the billions in annual US defense aid given). Israel media has detailed

A US official later said the Israeli proposal was a highly detailed three-to-four-page document. It was apparently approved by the war cabinet — compromising Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and minister Benny Gantz — but presumably not yet presented to the wider security cabinet, of which far-fight ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich are members, and on whose support Netanyahu depends for his coalition’s majority.

Immediately after the speech,  Netanyahu — whom Biden avoided naming — released an initial statement saying that “The Israeli government is united in the desire to return our hostages as soon as possible and is working to achieve this goal.”

Netanyahu’s “non-starter” comment is a slap in the face to the White House, which has made largely empty threats about reigning in Israeli policy in Gaza. 

Biden now finds himself between a rock and a hard place in an election year and his Gaza policies are deeply unpopular among many Democrats. The intractable conflict and his handling of it has threatened to sink his chances going up against Trump as both campaigns kick into high gear. Israel’s military has in the last days expanded its Rafah ground operations, and has now moved into most parts of the southern city.

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