Netanyahu denies telling Biden he isn’t ruling out a Palestinian state

US President Joe Biden, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the the war between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 18, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Pool Photo via AP)
US President Joe Biden, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the the war between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 18, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Pool Photo via AP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies telling US President Joe Biden that he has not ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state.

A rare statement put out by Netanyahu’s office on Shabbat comes after CNN, citing a person familiar with the conversation, reports that Netanyahu told Biden that the public comments he made a day earlier — in which he appeared to reject the idea of creating a Palestinian state — were not meant to foreclose that outcome in any form.

“In his conversation last night with President Biden, Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated his consistent position for years, which he also expressed at a press conference the day before: after the elimination of Hamas, Israel must remain in full security control of the Gaza Strip to ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel, and this conflicts with the demand for Palestinian sovereignty,” the PMO statement says.

The CNN report follows similar comments from Biden himself, who said that the creation of an independent state for Palestinians is not impossible while Netanyahu is still in office, and that the two leaders discussed the issue during their phone call on Friday.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with US mayors, Biden was asked directly whether a two-state solution was impossible with Netanyahu still in office.

“No it’s not,” the president replied.

He was then asked: “Are you going to reconsider conditions on Israel aid given what Bibi [Netanyahu] said on a two-state solution?” (The Israeli prime minister reiterated and detailed his opposition to Palestinian sovereignty during a press conference on Thursday.)

Said Biden: “I think we’ll be able to work something out.”

Asked how this could be done, the president intimated that there might be “types” of two-state solutions that Netanyahu may not be opposed to: “There are a number of types of two-state solutions. There’s a number of countries that are members of the UN that are still — don’t have their own militaries. Number of states that have limitations on [inaudible]. And so I think there’s ways in which this could work.”

The reporter then told Biden that “Bibi just said he’s opposed to any two-state solution.”

“No, he didn’t say that,” Biden asserted.

At his press conference on Thursday, Netanyahu said that “in any future arrangement, or in the absence of an arrangement,” Israel must maintain “security control” of all territory west of the Jordan River — meaning, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. “That is a vital condition.”

He acknowledged that this “contradicts the idea of sovereignty [for the Palestinians]. What can you do? I tell this truth to our American friends.”

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