JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel and the U.S. are facing off over the future of Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Both U.S. and Israeli leaders are making their case publicly.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear Thursday that he’s opposed to a Palestinian state.
“I tell this truth to our American friends and I also stopped the attempt to impose a reality on us that would harm Israel’s security,” Netanyahu said. “The prime minister needs to be capable of saying no to our friends – saying no when necessary, and saying yes when possible.”
Netanyahu also laid out his plans for the day after the war with Hamas, and the goals that go with it, listing, “The destruction of Hamas, complete demilitarization under Israeli control, and a civilian administration that does not preach the destruction of Israel, does not teach the destruction of Israel, and does not send terror toward Israel. I think these things are not that complex. I would be happy if Gazans can be found to do this.”
Following U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s discussions with Middle East leaders, the State Department is laying out a different vision.
Spokesperson Matthew Miller emphasized, “Without a tangible path to the establishment of a Palestinian state, there are no other partners in the region who are going to step forward and help with the reconstruction of Gaza. There are no other partners in the region who are going to step forward and help establish Palestinian- led governance of Gaza.”
Some observers feel what’s missing in this debate is any talk of the Palestinian Authority. Under the aging Mahmoud Abbas, the P.A. has yet to condemn the Hamas atrocities of October 7th and desires a Hamas presence in any future Palestinian State.
The P.A. has also increased its “pay to slay” program, in which they pay the salaries of those convicted of terror attacks against Israelis.
Given the continuing disagreement, NBC News is now reporting that the Biden administration could be looking for another leader beyond Netanyahu, reportedly meeting with opposition leaders.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Israeli President Isaac Herzog explained his country’s feelings about October 7th and beyond.
“Israelis lost trust in the peace processes because they could see that terror is glorified by our neighbors,” Herzog contended. “It’s a key element in the discussion. You cannot shy away from it and on the other hand we, of course, are not shying away from the fact that there are five million Palestinians and we will have to find ways and means to deal with the issue.”
Herzog added Iran is the main reason for the Middle East turmoil.
“There is an empire of evil emanating from Tehran, spending billions of dollars in arms and money and people’s well-being to derail the entire stability of the world and the region,” he explained. “They’ve attacked the United States forces two nights ago openly. They have proxies all over the region quietly lurking to undermine any peace process and any stability of the world and that is exactly what we are seeing. And they have to be faced by a very strong coalition.”
Israel’s president also addressed the suffering in Gaza.
“I’m not shying away from the human tragedy in Gaza. And you want to know something? We care. We care,” he insisted. “It is pain for us that our neighbors are suffering so much. But how else can we defend ourselves if our enemies decided to entrench themselves in an infrastructure of terror of unbelievable size?”
Meanwhile, Israel marked what it sees as the “saddest birthday in the world,” as Kfir Bibas, the youngest Hamas hostage, turned one on Thursday.