Israel won’t end Gaza war in exchange for hostage deal, Netanyahu tells Blinken

Israeli defense minister tells Secretary of State IDF prepared to enter Rafah; Blinken says US not convinced Israeli plan to protect civilians is sufficient.

By World Israel News Staff

An Israeli operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah is inevitable, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Wednesday, regardless of whether a hostage deal can be secured with the Hamas terror organization.

Netanyahu met with Blinken in Jerusalem Wednesday, after the Secretary of State met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.

During their meeting, Netanyahu emphasized that Israel will not agree to terminate the current war with Hamas in exchange for a hostage deal.

“He told Blinken that we are interested in reaching a deal, and determined to topple Hamas,” an Israeli official informed The Times of Israel immediately following Netanyahu’s meeting with Blinken.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the claim, saying that Israel “would not accept a deal that includes an agreement to end the war in the Gaza Strip.”

In addition, Netanyahu insisted that the IDF will carry out its much anticipated ground operation in Rafah, even if a hostage deal is secured.

“The Rafah operation does not depend on anything,” the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday. “Prime Minister Netanyahu made this clear to Secretary Blinken.”

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At the same time, Blinken reiterated the Biden administration’s objections to the Rafah operation as it is currently planned, warning that Israel has yet to convince the U.S. that it is prepared to ensure the safety of the over one million Gazans currently residing in Rafah.

According to a statement by State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, Blinken “reiterated the United States’ clear position on Rafah.”

Blinken also met with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (Likud) and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi Wednesday, following a tour of Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the Israeli communities targeted by Hamas during the atrocities of October 7th.

During their meeting, Gallant told Blinken that the IDF’s current operation in Gaza must continue until the Hamas terror organization has been dismantled and the Israeli captives returned.