He spoke exclusively with “World News Tonight” host David Muir.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again rejected the idea of a cease-fire in Gaza unless the hostages are freed, and addressed the future of Gaza after the war in an exclusive interview with ABC News “World News Tonight” host David Muir.
President Joe Biden and top administration officials have been pressing Israel for a temporary “humanitarian” pause so more aid can enter Gaza and more civilians can escape fighting in the Palestinian territory.
According to the White House, Biden and Netanyahu discussed the matter until Monday, though no apparent agreement was reached. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the administration considers the parties to be “at the beginning of this conversation.”
“What they’re proposing is a humanitarian pause, no pause?” Muir pressed Netanyahu shortly after speaking with Biden.
“There will be no ceasefire, no general ceasefire in Gaza without the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu replied. “In terms of tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there. We’ve had them before, I think we’ll check the conditions for supplies, humanitarian supplies to come in or our hostages, individual hostages to leave. But I don’t think there will be a general ceasefire.”
Netanyahu continued, “I think it will hamper the war effort. It will hamper our effort to get our hostages out, because the only thing that works is the military pressure we put on these criminals in Hamas.”
Muir asked Netanyahu if there would be such a pause if Hamas agreed to release the hostages. According to Israeli officials, 241 people have been detained by the militant group.
“There will be a cease-fire for that purpose,” Netanyahu replied.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza during the month-long conflict. That number includes 4,104 children. In Israel, more than 1,400 people have died and 6,900 have been injured, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Future control of Gaza?
While defending Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas, the Biden administration is seeking to minimize civilian casualties and envision a path forward for Palestinians after the conflict ends.
Noting that Biden had previously said that Israel’s occupation of Gaza was “wrong,” Muir asked Netanyahu who should govern the territory when the fighting ends.
The prime minister indicated that he believed Israel would have a role “indefinitely”. Last month, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant suggested that the final step would be to sever “Israel’s responsibility for living in the Gaza Strip” and establish “a new security reality for Israeli citizens.”
“Those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas,” Netanyahu told Muir. “Absolutely not — I think Israel will have overall security responsibility indefinitely, because we’ve seen what happens when it doesn’t. When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is an explosion of Hamas terrorism that we never imagined.”
Asked whether the Biden administration accepts or supports Netanyahu’s position, Kirby said discussions about Gaza’s future are ongoing and nothing has been decided.
“We support that Gaza can no longer be controlled by Hamas,” Kirby said. “Oct. Can’t go back to 6.
“We are having conversations with our Israeli counterparts about what the regime of Gaza should look like post-conflict, and I don’t believe any solutions have been settled one way or the other,” Kirby continued. “Who’s going to do what and for how long. So we’re actively discussing with other partners in the region, not just Israel, because whatever it looks like, it can’t be like it did. Like I said on October sixth.”