Israel-Hamas war: Will Netanyahu agree to Palestinian state? Biden thinks so

The two leaders spoke over phone after almost a month

Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden (File) Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden | AP

Amid heightened tensions between the US and Israel over the latter's war with Hamas, President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally spoke yesterday after a nearly four-week gap in direct communication.

A day after Netanyahu rejected US calls to scale back Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip or take steps toward the establishment of a Palestinian state after the war, the two leaders talked over the phone, with Biden telling reporters after the call that Netanyahu is not opposed to all two-state solutions for Palestinians.

Denying that a two-state solution was impossible, Biden said that some United Nations members do not have military forces, suggesting a non-militarised government in Palestine might be agreeable to Israel.

When asked if he would reconsider conditions on Israel aid, Biden said, "I think we'll be able to work something out. I think there are ways in which this could work."

On Thursday, Netanyahu had said in a nationally televised news conference that Israel would not halt its offensive until it destroys Hamas in Gaza and rescues all hostages held by the militant group.

A day earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said that "Israel would never have genuine security without a pathway toward Palestinian independence".

But White House spokesperson John Kirby denied that Friday's call between the two leaders was in response to Netanyahu's comment on Thursday. He told the mediapersons that Biden had been trying to schedule the call "for quite a bit of time".

Biden and Netanyahu also, reportedly, discussed efforts to rescue the remaining hostages held by Hamas, and Israel's shift to more "targeted" operations in Gaza to allow more humanitarian aid, the White House said.

"The president also discussed his vision for a more durable peace and security for Israel fully integrated within the region and a two state-solution with Israel's security guaranteed," the White House said in a statement about their call.

Biden has been pressuring Israel to reduce Palestinian deaths even as he has maintained his strong support of Israel in its war against Hamas.

Hamas militants had attacked Israeli towns on October 7, killing 1,200 and sparking off a war that has left 24,762 Palestinians dead in Gaza, according to the health ministry there.

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