Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Israeli newspaper Arab 48 reports on the press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He vowed to continue the war on Gaza and vowed to attack Iran. “Who says we won’t attack Iran? We will attack it.”
At one point Netanyahu insisted that in any foreseen arrangement for the future, “Israel must control all the lands west of the Jordan.”
(It is worth noting that such a massive annexation of Palestinian territory would expand Israel from the river to the sea, and would permanently destroy any possibility of a Palestinian state.
When supporters of Palestinian rights use this phrase, Zionists allege that it is murderous toward Israelis. They are wrong — it is a demand for political rights for Palestinians. Marc Lamont Hill was actually fired from CNN for using this phrase in a pro-Palestinian speech at the United Nations. The odious Rep. Elise Stefanik got Claudine Gray fired as president of Harvard because she would not categorize the phrase, used in pro-Palestinian student demonstrations, as Antisemitic.
But when Netanyahu says it, we should in fact understand it to be murderous toward Palestinians, since no one in history has killed as many Palestinian civilians as Netanyahu.)
Netanyahu said, “Complete victory requires the return of our hostages to their homes, the disarming of Gaza, and security oversight over what enters Gaza.” He emphasized that “ending the war before achieving our goals will harm the security of Israel for generations.”
He said that his government had passed an enormous military budget that would help the army realize its war aims and achieve victory. He cautioned, “Victory will take more long months, but we are determined to accomplish it.”
He “completely rejected” the repeated assertions by present and former Israeli political officials in television interviews that victory is impossible. Faced with protests over his failure to bring back Israeli hostages, he insisted that it was military pressure that would free them. He said that ending the war would broadcast a message of weakness and it would then be only a matter of time until there was another bloodbath. He was referring to the sickening Hamas attack of October 7, the bulk of whose victims were innocent civilians.
Regarding reports that he had rejected the American suggestion of establishing a Palestinian state, the embattled prime minister, who is deeply unpopular, attempted to tie his fate to that of the nation, replying, “What the political parties call in Israel ‘the day after’ means for them ‘the day after Netanyahu.’ . . . Whoever speaks of the day after Netanyahu in reality is speaking of the establishment of a Palestinian state via the Palestine Authority. That isn’t the day that follows Netanyahu but is the ‘day after’ for the majority of Israeli citizens.”
He said of US influence in Israel that the Israeli prime minister must be able to say “no” even to the dearest of friends.
Barak Ravid reported this week at Axios that US President Joe Biden is deeply frustrated with Netanyahu’s intransigence and has not spoken with him in nearly a month. Ravid says during that last conversation, Biden was pressing Netanyahu to restore the funding he had cut from the Palestine Authority (the West Bank rival of Hamas). Netanyahu rejected all of Biden’s suggestions for a workaround. Biden allegedly said, “This conversation is over.” And, it has been over ever since.
On Sunday, some 400,000 protesters demonstrated in Washington, DC, against the ongoing war, alleging that Biden is facilitating genocide. Democratic Party leaders such as Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer have expressed anxiety about the impact of Biden losing the Arab and Muslim American votes, which have sometimes been swing votes in Michigan and some other key states.
Netanyahu is on trial for corruption and fears going to jail if he loses his current position. Opinion polling suggests that he and his coalition partners would be crushed at the polls if the government fell and new elections were held now. Some polls show that only 15% of Israelis want Netanyahu to remain at his post once the war on Gaza ends. Many Israelis blame him for the security failures attendant on the October 7 terrorist attack. He in turn has represented himself as the only one who can stand up to pressure for the establishment of a Palestinian state.