The Israeli prime minister thanked the top U.S. diplomat for his support ‘in the war of eliminating Hamas and securing the release of our hostages.’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at his office in Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon.
It is the fourth time the top U.S. diplomat has visited the Jewish state since the war against Hamas began on Oct. 7.
In a video published following the sit-down, Netanyahu noted that the meeting with Biden took place “shortly after Hamas murderers murdered Israelis here in Jerusalem.
“This is the same Hamas that carried out the horrible massacre on Oct. 7, the same Hamas that tries to murder us everywhere. I told him: We swore, and I swore, to eliminate Hamas. Nothing will stop us,” said Netanyahu.
“We will continue this war until we achieve the three goals—to release all our abductees, to eliminate Hamas completely and to ensure that Gaza will never again face such a threat,” the prime minister added.
Blinken joined Netanyahu and the other War Cabinet members for a meeting.
“I want to express our appreciation for your support from the beginning: the president, you personally, the delegation, in the war of eliminating Hamas and securing the release of our hostages. You’ve been very helpful. We appreciate it deeply,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting.
“And of course, I’d like to talk to you about the next phase.”
On the American agenda was discussion about a further extension of the ceasefire and ways to free more hostages from the Gaza Strip. The current 24-hour extension expires on Friday morning.
In addition to the War Cabinet members Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Gantz, the meeting also included Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, Minister-without-Portfolio Gadi Eizenkot, MK Aryeh Deri, the prime minister’s chief of staff, Tzachi Braverman, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the prime minister’s military secretary, Maj. Gen. Avi Gil, National Security Council Deputy Director Gil Reich and Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs.
Representing the American side were Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, State Department Counselor Derek Chollet and Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues David Satterfield.
The secretary of state also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
At the start of their meeting, Herzog commented on the terrorist attack in Jerusalem earlier in the day, saying “it is another example of the situation we’re in, the endless war that we are fighting against terror organizations, especially Hamas, in these very complicated and challenging times.”
Blinken began his remarks by talking about the Jerusalem attack.
“And, as you said, we’re reminded yet again by the events in Jerusalem today of the threat from terrorism that Israel and Israelis face every single day. Like you, my heart goes out to the victims of this attack.”
Blinken noted the “positive developments” in freeing Israeli hostages from Gaza and how the ceasefire has allowed more humanitarian aid into the Strip.
“I look forward to detailed conversations with the Government of Israel about the way ahead in Gaza. The United States firmly supports Israel and its right to defend itself and to try to ensure that October 7 never happens again,” he said.
Both leaders acknowledged the death of former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger at the age of 100.
During a subsequent meeting with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Blinken brought up “ongoing efforts to accelerate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, including through maximizing humanitarian pauses,” according to a State Department readout.
Blinken and Abbas also discussed “the urgent need for measures to improve security and freedom” for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. “The secretary reiterated that the United States remains committed to advancing tangible steps for a Palestinian state,” added Washington.
Blinken arrived in the region after attending meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels and Skopje, North Macedonia, where NATO foreign ministers and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) discussed the situation in Ukraine.
While in Brussels, Blinken dodged a question from a New York Times reporter about the possibility of Israel’s offensive against Hamas not resuming at all.
“We’d like to see the pause extended because what it has enabled first and foremost is hostages being released, coming home, being reunited with their families. It’s also enabled us to surge humanitarian assistance into the people of Gaza, who so desperately need it,” said Blinken. “So its continuation, by definition, means that more hostages would be coming home, more assistance would be getting in.”
The American diplomat then turned to the idea of a two-state solution, which he noted the Biden administration has characterized from the start as “the only path to enduring peace; to enduring security; to the preservation of Israel as a strong, secure, democratic and Jewish state; and Palestinians having their legitimate aspirations for a state and self-determination met.
“The events of Oct. 7 only further confirm that commitment,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, Netanyahu said that Israel would resume attacking Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
“There is no way we are not going back to fight to the end,” the prime minister said. “This is my policy, the entire Cabinet stands behind it, the entire government stands behind it, the soldiers stand behind it, the people stand behind it—this is exactly what we will do.”
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