Netanyahu Says He Is ‘Only One Who Will Prevent a Palestinian State’
With his approval ratings in the tank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly been lobbying members of his Likud party in a bid to keep their support, claiming he is "the only one who will prevent a Palestinian state" in Gaza and the West Bank.
Netanyahu's remarks, first reported by the Israeli public broadcaster Kan, fly in the face of the Biden administration's continued push for a two-state solution as the "only way to guarantee the long-term security of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people."
"To make sure Israelis and Palestinians alike live in equal measure of freedom and dignity, we will not give up on working towards that goal," U.S. President Joe Biden, who has offered unconditional political and military support to Israel during its latest assault on Gaza, wrote in a social media post late Monday.
Analysts have long argued that one democratic state, not two states, is the only viable alternative to the apartheid status quo, given factors such as ever-expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Throughout his career, Netanyahu has vociferously opposed a peaceful resolution and worked to divide Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank by propping up Hamas.
"Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas," Netanyahu told his colleagues in 2019. "This is part of our strategy—to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank."
In his latest comments to Likud backbenchers, Netanyahu reportedly said he's "the only one who can withstand U.S. pressure" and that he knows "how to manage American public opinion," even as American public support for Israel's assault on Gaza falls.
The Times of Israelreported Monday that Netanyahu "boasted about having gone against" U.S. wishes by launching a ground invasion of Gaza and raiding the Palestinian territory's largest hospital on the pretense that Hamas was hiding a command center on the facility's grounds—a claim that has not been substantiated.
Netanyahu, facing mounting domestic pressure to resign, has also indicated that Israel plans to occupy the Gaza Strip for an "indefinite period" after the current war, defying Biden's warning against a prolonged occupation.
"Look Joe Biden: Netanyahu is spitting in your face," Yonah Lieberman, co-founder of the Jewish-American advocacy group IfNotNow, wrote on social media Monday. "He doesn't take you seriously. Are you going to keep hugging him in public or are you going to finally end the blank check and hold him accountable for his words and actions?"
News of the Israeli prime minister's meetings with Likud lawmakers came as the attack on Gaza is under a tenuous pause to allow for the release of hostages. Netanyahu has opposed a lasting cease-fire and pledged to continue waging war on the strip once the pause is over.
The Financial Timesreported Tuesday that Biden and other top U.S. officials have implored Israel not to trigger mass internal displacement in its planned offensive in southern Gaza, where many people have fled to escape Israeli bombing in the north. Israel's assault has displaced around 70% of Gaza's population so far.
Israeli officials have not provided any public indication that their bombing campaign will be less destructive following the end of the pause.
"The enemy will meet first the bombs of the Air Force, and after that the shells of the tanks and the artillery and the scoops of the D9 [bulldozers], and finally gunfire of the infantry troops," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Monday. "We will fight in the entire strip."