Netanyahu says he is going into Rafah with or without American support: Israeli PM tells Blinken he is going to ‘finish Hamas’ in and will ‘do it alone’ if he doesn’t get U.S. backing in huge snub to Biden

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • ‘While I expressed hope for U.S. support, I made it clear that if necessary, we would proceed independently,’ Netanyahu said 
  • He made the announcement after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Blinken
  • Also Russia and China have vetoed a U.S. draft resolution in the United Nations calling for an ‘immediate and sustained’ ceasefire in Gaza 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that he is determined to send troops into the southern Gaza city of Rafah and would do so without U.S. support.

He made the announcement after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. President Joe Biden’s administration has urged Israel to hold off on its invasion of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering.

‘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,’ Netanyahu said.

‘I emphasized our commitment to evacuating civilians from conflict zones and addressing humanitarian needs. However, I underscored the necessity of entering the Strip and neutralizing the remaining militias to defeat Hamas,’ he added. 

‘While I expressed hope for U.S. support, I made it clear that if necessary, we would proceed independently.’ 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that he is determined to send troops into the southern Gaza city of Rafah and would do so without U.S. support. 

Blinken, meanwhile, warned Netanyahu that Israel’s security and its place in the world are in peril, and ‘you might not realize it until it’s too late,’ Axios reported citing sources.

‘You need a coherent plan, or either you’re going to be stuck in Gaza,’ Blinken said. 

Netanyahu’s pronouncement came after Russia and China have vetoed a U.S. draft resolution in the United Nations calling for an ‘immediate and sustained’ ceasefire in Gaza.

In a phone call with Netanyahu last week, Biden told the Israeli prime minister it would be a ‘mistake’ to launch an offensive on Rafah.

‘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,’ White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in the press briefing on Monday where he gave a read out of the leaders’ call.

On their call, the first time Biden and the Israeli prime minister have spoken in a month, Biden asked Netanyahu to send a team of military, intelligence and humanitarian officials to Washington to discuss Israel’s planning for Rafah and to lay out an alternative approach that would target Hamas and secure the Egypt-Gaza border without a full-scale invasion. 

Netanyahu agreed and the advisers were scheduled to be in Washington D.C. next week. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Tel Aviv, Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Tel Aviv, Israel

Muslims perform the second Friday prayer of the Holy month of Ramadan among the rubble of Al-Farooq Mosque which was destroyed in the Israeli attack in Rafah

Muslims perform the second Friday prayer of the Holy month of Ramadan among the rubble of Al-Farooq Mosque which was destroyed in the Israeli attack in Rafah

Palestinians look at a house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah

Palestinians look at a house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah

Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Friday after spending time in the Cario and Saudi Arabia, seeking support for a cease fire agreement. 

Ahead of his stop in Israel, Blinken said a invasion of Rafah would be ‘a mistake,’ adding that a truce agreement was ‘possible.’ 

‘There is a false choice involved here … Hamas can be effectively dealt with without a major ground operation in Rafah,’ Blinken said. 

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

The secretary of state’s meeting with Netanyahu and his war cabinet came amid tensions with the Biden administration. 

Netanyahu called in to a Senate luncheon meeting this week of Republican senators, but Senate Democrats didn’t invite him following Minority Leader Charles Schumer’s floor speech calling for new elections in Israel and saying Netanyahu had ‘lost his way.’

‘Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah,’ Schumer said, in a speech President Biden called ‘good.’

The talks are aiming 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.  

Meanwhile, with the defeat of the U.S. backed resolution in the UN, France is stepping in to try to restart efforts.

‘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,’ French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday.

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