Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sparked controversy after telling President Joe Biden that he opposes the creation of a Palestinian state in the wake of the recent war between Israel and Hamas. The admission puts Netanyahu at odds with long-standing U.S. policy supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Netanyahu and Biden Finally Speak, Disagreements Emerge
After months of strained relations, President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu finally spoke directly this week about their visions for the future of Israel and Palestine (source). However, the conversation revealed deep disagreements over the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu denied telling Biden “in absolute terms” that he is opposed to ever allowing a Palestinian state. But he did admit he told the president he would not support one in the current postwar scenario (source).
The White House confirmed that Netanyahu expressed opposition “to any withdrawal or any kind of Palestinian sovereignty or state” in Gaza after the recent war (source).
Biden reiterated America’s commitment to a two-state solution, despite Netanyahu’s stance. The president said he still believes the model is viable but did not elaborate on how it could work (source).
Netanyahu’s Stance Prompts Backlash in U.S. and Abroad
Netanyahu’s opposition to Palestinian statehood sparked swift backlash from U.S. officials and American Jewish groups:
- Several top congressional Democrats criticized Netanyahu’s position as an impediment to peace (source)
- Some Democrats suggested cutting U.S. aid to Israel over the rift on the two-state issue (source)
- Jewish-American groups warned Netanyahu’s stance could fray bipartisan support for Israel in Washington (source)
- British MP David Lammy called Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian statehood “unacceptable” (source)
- Canadian PM Justin Trudeau urged Israel to recommit to productive peace talks (source)
The White House stressed there is “no alternative path” to resolving the conflict other than two sovereign states living side-by-side in peace (source).
Escalating Rhetoric Raises Prospect of New Conflict
Some analysts warned that Netanyahu’s rhetoric could inflame tensions and provoke another round of violence:
- His remarks were seen as an effective declaration that Israel intends to maintain permanent control over the West Bank (source)
- Hamas leaders reacted angrily, accusing Biden of “preaching” about peace while allowing Israel’s “occupation” to continue (source)
- Experts say Netanyahu’s stance kills any chance for a negotiated settlement and may trigger another armed uprising (source)
“Netanyahu’s words make the situation much more dangerous,” said Ibrahim Fraihat, a conflict resolution expert at Qatar University. “Without hope for statehood, Palestinian leaders will have no choice but to embrace radicalization.”
Background: Months of Growing Tensions
Tensions between the Biden administration and Netanyahu government have simmered for many months:
- Biden harshly criticized Israel’s conduct during last year’s Gaza war, which killed over 5,000 Palestinians (source)
- The White House accused Israel of using disproportionate force and failing to avoid civilian casualties (source)
- Netanyahu was infuriated when Biden restored humanitarian aid to the Palestinians he had cut off (source)
Several efforts were made to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas after last year’s fighting. But the agreements quickly collapsed and hostilities resumed. Over 50 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed in clashes and rocket attacks so far in 2024 (source).
What Comes Next?
With Netanyahu doubling down on resisting Palestinian statehood, many fear the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could spiral out of control:
- Some predict a third Intifada uprising in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (source)
- Israel has vowed to extend its military control across all Palestinian territories after recent fighting subsides (source)
- The Biden administration will likely ramp up pressure on Israel over settlement construction and actions seen as obstructing the peace process (source)
- Some experts think the U.S. may even threaten to curtail military aid if Israel refuses territorial concessions (source)
Without a strong White House intervention, the situation appears bleak according to James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute in Washington: “Netanyahu’s remarks sounded the death knell for the two-state solution. Only bold U.S. leadership can rescue the chance for Israeli-Palestinian peace now.”
Table summarizing key developments:
|Biden and Netanyahu speak for first time in months, disagreements over Palestinian state emerge
|Netanyahu confirms he told Biden he opposes sovereignty or statehood for Palestinians after recent Gaza war
|White House stresses “no alternative path” to two-state solution, rejects Netanyahu’s position
|Congressional Democrats, Jewish groups, foreign leaders criticize Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian statehood
|Analysts warn Netanyahu’s stance makes new violent uprising inevitable without swift US intervention
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