Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he would not scale back Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip, rejecting calls from the United States to do so.
He also said he opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state after the end of the Israel-Hamas war.
In a nationally televised news conference, Netanyahu repeatedly said that Israel would not halt its offensive until it destroyed Hamas and ended the terror group’s rule in Gaza. He also said bringing home the roughly 130 remaining hostages was paramount.
During his remarks, Netanyahu rejected his critics who claim these goals are not achievable, saying the war could continue for several more months and that Israel “will not settle for anything short of an absolute victory.”
Netanyahu’s comments come just a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel would never have “genuine security” without a pathway toward Palestinian independence.
Earlier this week, the White House urged Israel to scale down its military ground operation, saying that it was the “right time” to lower the intensity of the war. Other countries have urged a cease-fire or an end to physical fighting in lieu of diplomatic debates.
Netanyahu’s comments drew criticism from the White House, with national security spokesperson John Kirby saying, “We obviously see it differently.”
The U.S. has also called for steps toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.
On Wednesday, Blinken said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the two-state solution was the best way to protect Israel and gain stability in the Middle East.
The clash reflects what has become a rift between Israel and the U.S. over the Israel-Hamas war.
Israel officially declared war on Hamas in Gaza after the terror group led an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people and took some 250 others hostage.
While the U.S. has defended Israel’s assault as self-defense, both Israel and the U.S. face pressure to end the campaign as tens of thousands of civilians have been killed.
According to Gaza health authorities, the destructive military campaign has killed nearly 25,000 Palestinians and uprooted over 80% of the territory’s 2.3 million people from their homes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.