Israel’s Netanyahu reiterates rejection of Palestinian state after Gaza war

US says there is ‘no way’ to solve Israel’s long-term security challenges and rebuild Gaza without Palestinian statehood.

A view of the destroyed Ayin Calut apartment as the Palestinians search for their belongings under the rubble at the Nasirat Refugee Camp after Israeli forces withdrew
Benjamin Netanyahu pledges to press ahead with Gaza war until Israel realises a 'decisive victory over Hamas' [File: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the United States that he opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of any post-war scenario, underscoring divisions between the allies three months into Israel’s relentless military assault on Gaza.

In a nationally broadcast news conference on Thursday, Netanyahu pledged to press ahead with the offensive until Israel realises a “decisive victory over Hamas” and said he had relayed his positions on Palestinian statehood to US officials.

“In any future arrangement … Israel needs security control over all territory west of the Jordan River,” Netanyahu said. “This collides with the idea of sovereignty. What can you do?”

“The prime minister needs to be capable of saying no to our friends,” he added.

While the US has vetoed United Nations resolutions calling for a ceasefire, it has called on Israel to scale back the intensity of its war on Gaza, and said that the establishment of a Palestinian state should be part of the “day after”.

Following Netanyahu’s comments, US National Security Adviser John Kirby said that there would be no reoccupation of Gaza after the war and emphasised that the US remains committed to a two-state solution.

US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller also said Israel now has an opportunity to engage with the idea of a Palestinian state, as countries in the region are ready to provide security assurances.

“There is no way to solve [Israel’s] 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 on Thursday.

He added that despite differences of opinion between the US and Israel, “our support for Israel remains ironclad.”

‘Peace for the Palestinians’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up his latest visit to the Middle East last week by saying that offering Palestinians a path to statehood could stabilise the Middle East and isolate Iran.

The US top diplomat said the region faced two paths, the first of which would see “Israel integrated, with security assurances and commitments from regional countries and as well from the United States, and a Palestinian state – at least a pathway to get to that state”.

The alternative path, he said, would “continue to see the terrorism, the nihilism, the destruction by Hamas, by the Houthis, by Hezbollah, all backed by Iran”.

Earlier this week, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, said on a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland that the kingdom believed that “regional peace includes peace for Israel”.

He said Saudi Arabia “certainly” would recognise Israel as part of a larger political agreement, “but that can only happen through peace for the Palestinians, through a Palestinian state.”

After more than 100 days of Israel’s war on Gaza, relentless attacks have continued and at least 24,620 Palestinians have been killed. A communications blackout in Gaza has entered its seventh day, while raids have continued in the occupied West Bank.

The war has also rippled across the Middle East, with low-intensity fighting between the Israeli army and Lebanon’s Hezbollah threatening to erupt into all-out war, and Houthi rebels in Yemen continuing to target international shipping while the US launches attacks against them.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies