PM predicts more peace deals once Hamas defeated; says a Blinken-Halevi meet wouldn’t have been right

Taking questions at his press conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicts “the circle of peace will expand” if Hamas is defeated, after Saudi Arabia declared it won’t normalize relations with Israel until the war in Gaza is over and an irreversible path to a Palestinian state is established.

“There’ll be no agreement [on further peace treaties] if Hamas is not defeated,” he says.

Asked by Times of Israel’s Sam Sokol about disagreements in the war cabinet about the “day after” in Gaza,  and the lack of preparation for it, he says there is a wide agreement on the need to destroy Hamas and to ensure demilitarization under the IDF’s oversight. Civil administration by non-terror forces can only come after that happens.

He says he is trying to recruit regional players to help with this future civil governance, but he does not believe this effort will succeed unless and until it is clear that Hamas is defeated. Outside players remain fearful that they “would get a bullet in the head” from Hamas. Thus, it is “not serious” to believe that you can destroy the civil governance by Hamas before you have destroyed its military capabilities.

Netanyahu also confirms he rejected a US request for Secretary of State Antony Blinken to meet privately today with IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, saying he does not believe that would have been appropriate and that he doesn’t meet military commanders without political leaders present when he visits the United States or elsewhere.

He notes that the security chiefs attended a meeting today under his leadership with Blinken. “I think that’s how we need to act,” he says.

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