Netanyahu to Fox News: Perceived disagreement between US and Israel doesn’t help war effort

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interviewed on Fox News on March 11, 2024 (Screen grab)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interviewed on Fox News on March 11, 2024 (Screen grab)

In an interview with Fox News, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that perceived disagreements between the US and Israel make it harder to defeat Hamas.

“To the extent that Hamas believes that there’s daylight between us, that doesn’t help,” says Netanyahu, after intensified criticism from US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris over the weekend.

Agreement, on the hand, “helps the war effort, and it helps our efforts to achieve victory and obviously the release of the hostages.”

Netanyahu says that attempts to force a Palestinian state on Israel run against the wishes of the vast majority of the Israeli public: “You don’t have an issue with me. You have an issue with the entire people of Israel. They’re really united as never before, united to destroy Hamas, and ensure that we don’t have another Palestinian terror state like the one that we had in Gaza that could threaten the State of Israel.”

At the same time Netanyahu argues that there has been broad agreement between himself and Biden.

He says that they both agree that civilians need to be evacuated from Rafah before an IDF operation.

“The president and I have agreed that we have to destroy Hamas. We can’t leave a quarter of the Hamas terror army in place there in Rafah,” he says. “We have agreements on the basic goals, but we also have disagreements. Ultimately, it’s Israel that has to decide.”

Hitting back at Biden’s comment that going into Rafah is a “red line” for him, Netanyahu says leaving Hamas forces there intact is “a red line. We can’t let Hamas survive.”

“We are not getting off the gas” in the war on Hamas, Netanyahu insists.

In a possible signal to Biden, who is seen as pressuring Israel in order to appeal to progressive voters ahead of the November election, Netanyahu points at polling that shows that “82% of American support Israel against Hamas.”

Asked about Biden’s hot mic comment at the State of the Union that he and Netanyahu need to have a “come to Jesus” conversation, Netanyahu says he is “not familiar with that term, even though Jesus was born not that far from here.”

“If it means a heart-to-heart conversation, we had that plenty of times of the 40 years I’ve known Joe Biden, and over the 12 or 13 conversations we’ve had over the course of the war,” says Netanyahu.

Netanyahu says Israel is “very close to victory,” and that victory “will come sooner the more united we are.”

“One way or the other, we’re going to do it,” Netanyahu pledges.

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