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Benjamin Netanyahu says no 'permanent cease-fire' until Hamas destroyed

Statement contradicts proposals by President Joe Biden

By Allen Cone
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a ceremony marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers of Israel's wars and victims of attacks at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery on May 13, 2024. Israel marks Memorial Day to commemorate fallen soldiers and victims of attacks recorded since 1860 by the defence ministry, just before the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of its creation according to the Jewish calendar. Pool photo by Gil Cohen-Magen/UPI
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a ceremony marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers of Israel's wars and victims of attacks at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery on May 13, 2024. Israel marks Memorial Day to commemorate fallen soldiers and victims of attacks recorded since 1860 by the defence ministry, just before the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of its creation according to the Jewish calendar. Pool photo by Gil Cohen-Magen/UPI | License Photo

June 1 (UPI) -- Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday there would be no "permanent ceasefire" in Gaza until Hamas' military and governing capabilities were destroyed, contradicting a three-part proposal outlined by U.S. President Joe Biden one day earlier.

"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 in a rare statement on the Sabbath and only in English.

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"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.

The U.S., Qatar and Egypt later Saturday called on Israel and Hamas to "finalize the agreement embodying the principles" in the cease-fire proposal.

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"These principles brought the demands of all parties together in a deal that serves multiple interests and will bring immediate relief both to the long-suffering people of Gaza as well as the long-suffering hostages and their families," a joint statement released by all three countries reads.

On Friday, Biden described the first phase of the deal that involves a six-week total cease-fire, during which Israeli forces would withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza, and women, children and elderly hostages will be released. The initial phase also includes parameters for displaced Palestinians to return to their homes.

Phase two involves the release of all living hostages, including male soldiers, in exchange for Palestinians held in Israel.

The final phase includes the return of the remains of dead hostages and a major reconstruction plan for Gaza, which involves the United States and Arab nations working with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to ensure Hamas is not able to rearm itself.

The plan was delivered to Hamas via Qatar.

Biden said Hamas has been "devastated" by Israel's response to the Oct. 7 attack and that it cannot carry out a similar attack.

"The people of Israel should know, they can make this offer without any further risk to their own security because they've devastated Hamas ... for the past eight months,' Biden said. "At this point, Hamas no longer is capable of carrying out another Oct. 7, which is one of Israel's main objective of this war and, quite frankly, a righteous one," he said.

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Hamas has been demanding an end to the war before it would resume talks.

"Hamas confirms its readiness to deal positively and in a constructive manner with any proposal that is based on the permanent ceasefire and the full withdrawal [of Israeli forces] from the Gaza Strip, the reconstruction [of Gaza], and the return of the displaced to their places, along with the fulfillment of a genuine prisoner swap deal if the occupation clearly announces commitment to such deal," the group said in a statement.

After the speech, Netanyahu released an initial statement not referencing Biden's speech and 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.

"Therefore, the prime minister authorized the negotiating team to present an outline for achieving this goal, while insisting that the war will not end until all of its goals are achieved, including the return of all our hostages and the elimination of Hamas' military and governmental capabilities," read the statement, adding that, "The exact outline proposed by Israel, including the conditional transition from stage to stage, allows Israel to maintain these principles."

Netanyahu later Saturday accepted an invitation to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

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Opposition leader Yair Lapid approves Biden's call for a Gaza truce.

"The government of Israel cannot ignore President Biden's consequential speech. There is a deal on the table and it should be made," Lapid said in an X post.

"I remind Netanyahu that he has a safety net from us for a hostage-release deal if Ben Gvir and Smotrich leave the government," Lapid wrote.

Families of hostages held by the Hamas terror group back Biden's proposal to end the nearly 8-month-long war and bring their relatives home.

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