Netanyahu Criticizes Biden's Truce Plan for Gaza as Incomplete: Hostage Release and Future Without Hamas

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers the truce plan presented by US President Joe Biden for Gaza and the hostage release as "partial," a government spokesperson stated on Monday.

Biden outlined a three-phase plan on Friday, aiming to end the conflict, secure the release of all hostages held by Palestinian groups, and rebuild Gaza without Hamas in control.

Government spokesman David Mencer quoted Netanyahu saying, "The outline presented by President Biden is partial," and added that "the war will be paused for the return of the hostages," followed by discussions on how to eliminate Hamas.

Netanyahu, in a separate statement to a parliament committee, clarified that claims of agreeing to a ceasefire without conditions are false.

His far-right coalition partners, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, criticized Biden's plan. Ben Gvir stated that the proposal would end the war without achieving the goal of destroying Hamas. He threatened to break up the government if Netanyahu accepted the deal. Smotrich warned that if the government adopts what he called a proposal of surrender, his party would withdraw and push for new leadership.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid acknowledged Biden's significant speech and promised to support Netanyahu if his coalition partners abandoned him.

The conflict in Gaza began on October 7 when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel, resulting in 1,190 deaths, primarily civilians, according to Israeli figures. Hamas also took around 250 hostages, with 120 still in Gaza, including 37 that the army believes are dead.

Since October 7, Israeli bombardments and a ground offensive in Gaza have resulted in the deaths of at least 36,479 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

US, Egyptian, and Qatari mediation efforts have stalled since a one-week truce in November, which saw hostages exchanged for Palestinian prisoners and an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah, a Lebanese ally of Hamas, has engaged in regular cross-border fire with Israel since the conflict began.

On Monday, Smotrich suggested that the Israeli military should invade Lebanon and push "hundreds of thousands of Lebanese" away from the border. He proposed creating a "security strip" in southern Lebanon, similar to the one maintained before the 2000 withdrawal, which would involve a ground invasion and moving Hezbollah militants and Lebanese civilians beyond the Litani River, 30 kilometers from the UN-patrolled border.


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