Netanyahu Renews Israel Victory Pledge as Biden Calls for Ceasefire, Two-State Solution

JERUSALEM, Israel – The U.S. and Israel stand at a diplomatic and military crossroads.

Israel says it needs to finish the war against Hamas in the key Gazan city of Rafah, yet the U.S. is threatening that Israel won’t be able to use American weapons if Israel launches its military campaign against the Hamas stronghold. 

On the northern border, Hezbollah continues to fire rocket volleys on Israeli communities.

In his State of the Union address, President Biden put the burden on Israel to protect Gazans.

“Israel has an added burden because Hamas hides and operates among the civilian population like cowards under hospitals, daycare centers, and all the like. Israel also has a fundamental responsibility, though, to protect innocent civilians in Gaza,” Biden declared.

He added what he says is the solution: “As we look to the future, the only real solution to the situation is a two-state solution  (between Israel and the Palestinians) over time.”

To increase humanitarian aid to Gaza, the administration announced plans to construct a port in Gaza.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio pushed back on that idea on Fox News.

“Once you get aid in, who’s going to distribute it? Because that’s really the factor in place right now,” he stated.

Rubio added, “The only people on the ground with any organization to distribute things are Hamas. So in essence, can they guarantee that we’re going to go through all this trouble to put American lives on the line just so aid can be distributed to Hamas – who in turn will then control it like they’ve controlled everything. There’s no Hamas fighters starving to death. And Hamas has no history. None whatsoever. They have zero history of either helping civilians or people.  So this is all for show and it’s dangerous.”

Rubio says the fastest way to get aid into Gaza is to defeat Hamas. It’s a goal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to Israeli soldiers at a graduation ceremony. His pledge drew cheers.

“Today, I want to tell you, tell you clearly: the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will continue to operate against all of Hamas’s battalions throughout the Strip – and this includes Rafah, Hamas’s last stronghold,” Netanyahu said to clapping and cheering.

He continued, “Whoever tells us not to operate in Rafah, is telling us to lose the war – and that will not happen. There is international pressure and it is increasing. But it is precisely when the international pressure increases that we must close ranks among ourselves. We must stand together against the attempts to stop the war.”

Netanyahu then quoted scripture, saying, “This is what the Psalmist says: ‘Who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.’ [Psalm 144:1] We are learning the lessons of the fighting and we are planning – with due consideration – the continuation of the war. In the future, we will learn all the lessons of October 7th. We will do so openly and fully. But today we have a clear goal: Achieving total victory in the war.”

In an unprecedented move, the Biden administration is considering restricting the use of U.S. munitions if Israel launches a military operation into Rafah. An article in The Washington Post quoted former U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk as saying, “If Israel launches an offensive in Rafah without adequately protecting the displaced civilian population, it may precipitate an unprecedented crisis in U.S.-Israel relations, even involving arms supplies.”

Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, tells CBN News that would play into the hands of Hamas.

“I think it’s very irresponsible of the United States, because President Biden himself and Secretary Blinken have both said that they understand Israel’s need to eliminate Hamas – and to do that, they have to go into Rafah,” Kemp explained. “If they don’t destroy Hamas in Rafah, then effectively they would have survived and will have won the war. They will declare victory. They will still be a major threat to Israel.” 

Meanwhile, the head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is reportedly holding up the negotiations for a ceasefire and the release of the remaining hostages.

Sinwar demands a permanent ceasefire and a pullout of all Israeli forces from Gaza.    

Both in Israel’s north and south, fighting continues, with three Gazan rockets fired toward the southern town of Sderot, while Hezbollah launched a volley of rockets against northern towns.

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