Israel's Netanyahu Stands Firm: Announces Independent Action In Gaza Crisis (WATCH)

By Jennifer Wentworth | Saturday, 23 March 2024 09:20 PM
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In a recent announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his resolve to deploy troops into Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, even without the backing of the United States.

This statement came after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The Biden administration has been urging Israel to refrain from invading Rafah, a city currently providing shelter to over a million Palestinians.

Netanyahu stated, "Today, I met with the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. I conveyed my deep appreciation for our joint effort in combating Hamas for over five months." He further emphasized Israel's commitment to evacuating civilians from conflict zones and addressing humanitarian needs. However, he underscored the necessity of entering the Strip and neutralizing the remaining militias to defeat Hamas. "While I expressed hope for U.S. support, I made it clear that if necessary, we would proceed independently."

Blinken, on the other hand, cautioned Netanyahu about the potential jeopardy to Israel's security and its global standing. According to Axios, Blinken warned, "You need a coherent plan, or either you're going to be stuck in Gaza."

Netanyahu's declaration follows the veto by Russia and China of a U.S. draft resolution in the United Nations, which called for an 'immediate and sustained' ceasefire in Gaza. In a previous phone call with Netanyahu, President Biden warned that launching an offensive on Rafah would be a 'mistake.'

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White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, during a press briefing, relayed Biden's concerns, stating, "A major ground operation there would be a mistake, it would lead to more innocent civilian deaths, worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis, deepen the anarchy in Gaza, and further isolate Israel internationally."

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During their call, Biden requested Netanyahu to send a team of military, intelligence, and humanitarian officials to Washington to discuss Israel's planning for Rafah and to propose an alternative approach that would target Hamas and secure the Egypt-Gaza border without a full-scale invasion. Netanyahu agreed to this, and the advisers are scheduled to be in Washington D.C. next week.

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Blinken, who arrived in Tel Aviv after visiting Cairo and Saudi Arabia to garner support for a ceasefire agreement, reiterated the U.S. stance against an invasion of Rafah. He stated, "There is a false choice involved here ... Hamas can be effectively dealt with without a major ground operation in Rafah."

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The United Nations has repeatedly warned of an impending famine facing 2.4 million people in the besieged Palestinian territory, where over five months of war have largely destroyed civilian infrastructure and displaced most of the population.

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The meeting between Blinken and Netanyahu, along with his war cabinet, occurred amidst tensions with the Biden administration. Netanyahu had previously called into a Senate luncheon meeting of Republican senators, but was not invited by Senate Democrats following Minority Leader Charles Schumer's floor speech calling for new elections in Israel and stating that Netanyahu had 'lost his way.'

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Schumer warned, "Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah," a sentiment echoed by President Biden.

The ongoing talks aim to establish a pause in the fighting and the return of an estimated 200 hostages seized by Hamas during the October 7 attack, with negotiations focusing on Palestinian prisoners held inside Israel.

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In the wake of the defeat of the U.S. backed resolution in the UN, France is stepping in to try to restart efforts. French President Emmanuel Macron announced, "Following Russia's and China's veto a few minutes ago, we are going to resume work on the basis of the French draft resolution in the Security Council and work with our American, European and Arab partners to reach an agreement."

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