Photo Credit: GPO
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the nation, May 5, 2024.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued on the Sabbath that Israel will continue its war against the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza until all three objectives are achieved: return of all the hostages abducted by the terrorists on October 7, 2023 and in 2014; destruction of the Hamas terrorist organization as a military and governing entity; and taking steps to ensure Gaza never again poses a threat to Israel.

Netanyahu does not issue statements on the Sabbath unless they are of urgent concern.


Netanyahu: No Permanent Ceasefire Without Achieving All Objectives
“The actual proposal put forward by Israel, including the conditional transition from one phase to the next, allows Israel to uphold these principles,” said the statement issued late Friday night (Israel time).

“The Prime Minister authorized the negotiating team to present a proposal to that end, which would also enable Israel to continue the war until all its objectives are achieved, including the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities. The Government of Israel is united in its desire to return the hostages as soon as possible and is working to achieve this goal.”

On Saturday morning, the Prime Minister’s Office added another statement:
“Under the proposal, 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.

“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.”

Biden Violates Israel’s Trust, Reveals Details of Hostage Talks, Urges End to War

The statements came in response to remarks late Friday (Israel time) by US President Joe Biden who said he was sharing details of the latest Israeli proposal to Hamas for return of the hostages. There is a significant disparity between Biden’s claims and those of Israel’s prime minister.

Israeli government officials have repeatedly told reporters — including this writer — that details of the hostage talks mediated by the US, Egypt and Qatar could not be revealed due to the sensitivity of the issue. it’s not clear whether Biden, who ignored that stance, had a green light from the Netanyahu government to share the information.

Biden: ‘Full Ceasefire, IDF Withdrawal, Some Hostages Returned
“The first phase would last for six weeks,” Biden said. “Here’s what it would include: A full and complete ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza, release of a number of hostages — including women, the elderly, and the wounded — in exchange for release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. For our American hostages who would be released at this stage we want them home. Additional some remains of hostages who have been killed for the return of their families, bringing some degree of closure to that terrible grief. Palestinians, civilians would return to their homes and neighborhoods in all areas of Gaza, including in the north.

Humanitarian assistance would surge with 600 trucks carrying aid into Gaza every single day. With a ceasefire that aid could be safely and effectively distributed to all who need it. Hundreds of thousands of temporary shelters, including housing units, could be delivered by the international community … During the six weeks of phase one Israel and Hamas would negotiate the necessary arrangements to get to phase two, which is a permanent end to the hostilities.”

Living male hostages would not be released until the second phase, Biden said.

“Phase two would be an exchange for the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers; Israeli forces will withdrawal from Gaza and as long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, temporary ceasefire will become, in the words of the Israeli proposal, ‘the cessation of hostilities will be permanent,’ end of quote.”

In his remarks, Biden also appeared to blame Israeli forces for a deadly fire that erupted in Rafah and killed civilians, including women and children, following an IDF surgical strike on a building in which Hamas leaders were meeting. Secondary explosions at the site indicated the presence of significant amounts of weapons, including missiles, at the site, which was located more than 1.5 kilometers (a mile) from the humanitarian safe zone where civilians were supposed to be sheltering.

Also during his remarks Biden implied that Israel’s agreement with Hamas would include acceptance of a Palestinian Authority terrorist state on its borders in exchange for normalization with Saudi Arabia, and urged Israelis and others who want “peace now” to “raise their voices” and urge Israel’s government to “accept the deal” — essentially calling for the overthrow of the Netanyahu government.

In his statement, Netanyahu made it clear that his government would not agree to such terms — but just in case the prime minister was engaging in double-talk, Religious Zionism chair and Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich issued a separate statement shortly after the conclusion of the Sabbath, warning he would bring down the government before agreeing to such a deal.

Smotrich: Continue the War Until Hamas is Destroyed
“I have now spoken with the Prime Minister and made it clear to him that I will not be part of a government that will agree to the proposed outline and end the war without destroying Hamas and returning all the abductees,” Smotrich said.

“We will not agree to the end of the war before the destruction of Hamas, nor to a serious damage to the achievements of the war so far through the withdrawal of the IDF and the return of Gazans to the north of the Gaza Strip, nor to the wholesale release of terrorists who will return, God forbid, to murder Jews.

“We demand the continuation of the fighting until the destruction of Hamas and the return of all the abductees, the creation of a completely different security reality in Gaza and Lebanon, the return of all residents to their homes in the north and south and a massive investment in the accelerated development of these areas of the country.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.