Netanyahu Defies Biden’s Direct Request

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defied President Biden by introducing a resolution to oppose a Palestinian state. The resolution passed unanimously through the Knesset – Israel’s Parliament – and came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked Netanyahu to commit to a two-state solution.

During a conference in Munich, Germany, on February 17, Mr. Blinken said Israel had an “extraordinary opportunity” to alter the course of Middle East history by backing Palestinian statehood, adding that virtually every Arab state is united in pursuing that cause. Blinken said such a move would ensure Israel’s security in the future.

Mr. Netanyahu, however, argues that if the terror attack on Israeli civilians last year were to lead to Palestinian statehood, it would constitute a “reward for terrorism” and place his country in greater danger.

The proposals passed in the Knesset state that Israel rejects international “diktats” regarding a peace settlement, and if a settlement is reached, it will “come about solely through direct negotiations between the parties.” It also states that Israel will continue to oppose “unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.” In January, Netanyahu told Biden that when Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in Gaza is complete, his country will take control of the region.

White House national security adviser John Kirby responded immediately, saying this approach was unacceptable to the United States. There will be “no reoccupation of Gaza,” Kirby declared.

Mr. Netanyahu is meanwhile under similar international pressure to pull back on a military ground offensive in the Rafah region, said to be the last remaining Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip. Critics have accused the Jewish state of committing war crimes in Rafah, including Mexico and Chile, who have referred the matter to the International Criminal Court. The two countries lodged their complaints after South Africa filed a lawsuit accusing the Israeli government of genocide.

In January, the court ordered Israel to take any necessary steps to prevent genocidal acts in the Gaza Strip.