Netanyahu rules out Palestinian state as being 'incompatible' with Israeli security

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has rebuffed U.S. calls for a Palestinian state after the war in Gaza ends. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has rejected U.S. calls for a Palestinian state after the war in Gaza ends.

Netanyahu told a news conference in Jerusalem on Thursday that he had made clear to Washington that his focus was on defeating Hamas and that he opposes any peace plan involving a pathway to a sovereign Palestinian like the one favored by the Biden administration.

"In any arrangement in the foreseeable future, Israel must have security control over all the territory west of the Jordan River. This clashes with the idea of [Palestinian] sovereignty. What can you do?" Netanyahu said.

"I told this truth to our friends, the Americans, and I also blocked the attempt to impose a reality that would harm Israel's security. The prime minister needs to be able to say 'no,' even to our best friends."

The area referenced by Netanyahu includes lands that would be included in a future Palestinian state.

U.S. National Security spokesman John Kirby pushed back strongly against the comments saying the administration disagreed and would continue to push ahead.

"We obviously see it differently. We believe that the Palestinians have every right to live in an independent state with peace and security. And the president and his team is going to continue to work on that," he said speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One.

Netanyahu's comments appeared to be at odds with Israeli President Isaac Herzog who hours earlier told business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that while the ever-present threat of attack currently meant Israel lacked the headspace to think about peace talks, he did not rule it out in the future.

"We have to go and negotiate with those who could be a potential partner. We have to work as hard as possible to find new ways and means to have a dialogue with our neighbors the Palestinians and offer a future," he said.

Netanyahu's comments came 24 hours after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the United States' position, saying a pathway to a Palestinian state was the only answer to Israel's "age-old quest for genuine security."

Blinken said setting out a route map toward the establishment of a Palestinian state would hasten the type of "genuine" integration of Israel within the region that would ultimately deliver the true security Israel craved.

Later Friday, the White House released a statement, saying Biden spoke to Netanyahu in the morning and "discussed his vision for a more durable peace and security for Israel fully integrated within the region and a two state-solution with Israel's security guaranteed."

Meanwhile in Gaza, another 172 people were killed and 326 injured in the 24 hours ending Wednesday night, according to health officials from the Hamas-run Health Ministry who said the casualty numbers were likely to rise as there were a number of people trapped beneath rubble and lying on roads that ambulance and civil defense teams were unable to reach.

The latest figures bring to 24,620 the number of people killed and 61,830 injuries since Oct. 7.