Netanyahu says he is 'prepared to make a partial deal', sparking outrage: 'A gift to Hamas'

In first interview with an Israeli network, PM says he won't end war and leave Hamas in place - which is what he has been saying since the deal was announced by President Biden; says partial deal  'would return some of the hostages to us'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his first interview to an Israeli media outlet since the start of the war on October 7; and chose Channel 14, a news outlet considered friendly to the prime minister. During the interview in Sunday evening, Netanyahu for all intents and purposes rejected the current proposal on the table for a deal with Hamas - the deal he approved and that was presented to the world by U.S. President Joe Biden.
By admitting during the interview that he would not accept a complete cease-fire under a deal with Hamas, Netanyahu assured that there would be no deal since the end of the war is at the heart of the differences between Israel and Hamas.
Netanyahu was asked about reports that in the coming weeks the intense phase in Rafah will end, and he confirmed that this will indeed happen within a month. He then clarified that he is not giving up on the release of the hostages, "neither the living nor the dead", along with the elimination of Hamas' governmental and military capabilities. According to Netanyahu, "these things are intertwined and we need to do them only from within the territory. In this way we will avoid the possibility that Gaza will once again pose a threat to Israel."
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 Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the hostage deal put forward by  U.S. President Joe Biden
 Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the hostage deal put forward by  U.S. President Joe Biden
Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the hostage deal put forward by U.S. President Joe Biden
(Photos: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters, Debbie Hill/AP)
According to the prime minister: "The fact that the intense phase of the war with Hamas in Rafah is about to end does not mean that the war is about to end. After the intense phase is finished, we will have the possibility to move part of the forces north. And we will do this.
Netanyahu was asked if he supports a deal with a commitment to end the war. “No. I’m not prepared to end the war and leave Hamas in place. I am prepared to do a partial deal, that’s no secret, that would return some of the hostages to us.”
Although he claimed that "it is not a secret", sources familiar with the details were outraged by Netanyahu's words and said that they were not only contrary to the proposal presented by Biden, but contrary to the mandate that he himself allowed the negotiating team to submit.
"Hamas is looking for the certainty that we will proceed to phase two of the deal, and we are looking for the ambiguity - which is no longer needed after what Netanyahu said," a source says.
"The Prime Minister gave a tremendous gift to Hamas, the ability to say that Netanyahu is the one who blew up the deal, and not the terrorist organization," according to a source. "These things are a severe blow to negotiations for a deal."
The Prime Minister's Office tried to minimize damage after the interview, and issued a statement which said: "It is Hamas which opposes a deal, not Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear that we will not leave Gaza until we return all 120 of our hostages, living and deceased."
Hamas responded to Netanyahu's interview, saying that "our insistence that any agreement include a clear confirmation of a permanent cease-fire in Gaza and a complete withdrawal of the Israeli army is an absolute necessity, in order to curb Netanyahu's attempts to evade, deceive and perpetuate aggression." The Hamas statement also said that Netanyahu's position is "a clear confirmation that he rejects the latest Security Council decision and the proposals of U.S. President Joe Biden, contrary to what the U.S. administration tried to market."
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הפגנה נגד הממשלה ולמען שחרור החטופים בירושלים
הפגנה נגד הממשלה ולמען שחרור החטופים בירושלים
Protesters in Jerusalem call for the release of the hostages
(Photo: Gil Yohanan)

The headquarters of the Hostage and Missing Families Forum in a statement said that it "strongly condemns the prime minister's announcement about the withdrawal from the Israeli proposal. This is about abandoning the 120 hostages and a violation of the state's moral duty toward its citizens. The end of the fighting in the Strip, without the release of the hostages, is an unprecedented national failure and a failure to meet the goals of the war."
"The families of the hostages will not allow the government and its leader to withdraw from the basic commitments to the fate of our loved ones. The responsibility and obligation for the return of all the hostages rests with the prime minister. There is no greater test than this," according to the statement of the families.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu continued to harshly criticize the United States, insisting on Sunday that "there has been a dramatic decrease" in Israel's arms supply from Washington, despite public denials from senior American officials. A source in the White House clarified that the U.S. position has not changed and administration officials looked forward to the visit of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to Washington.
"Our position on the issue was clear, and we do not intend to continue commenting on any political statement by the prime minister," said the source, who added that "we look forward to constructive discussions between Defense Minister Gallant and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week." A senior U.S. official went on the attack: ."His repeated remarks are unhelpful. He is causing tremendous damage and shows ingratitude."
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