Israel-Gaza war: Netanyahu and Biden spar over support for conflict

Popular support for Israel in the US will help it fight “until total victory” over Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

In a statement, Mr Netanyahu cited polls showing that more than 80% of Americans support Israel during the conflict in Gaza.

His comments come after US President Joe Biden warned that Israel risks losing global support in the war.

US officials say they are working on a possible ceasefire deal.

In his statement on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu said that, since the beginning of the conflict, he has been leading a campaign “countering international pressure to end the war ahead of time and mobilise support for Israel.”

“We have significant successes in this area,” Mr Netanyahu added, citing a recent poll showing that 82% of the American public supports Israel. “This gives us more strength to continue the campaign until complete victory.”

On Monday, Mr Biden said the US hopes to have a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza “by next Monday.”

The US president also suggested later on that Israel could “lose support from around the world” if it “keeps up with this incredibly conservative government they have”.

Another poll, from the Associated Press and Norc, found that about half of US adults in January believed Israel had “gone too far” – up from 40% in November.

White House and State Department officials on Tuesday confirmed that negotiations on a temporary ceasefire were continuing, but declined to give details on the substance of the talks or potential timelines.

John Kirby, the White House’s National Security Council spokesperson, said that “significant progress” had been made towards a deal last week to allow hostages to leave Gaza and let humanitarian assistance in.

“We’re building on that progress this week and the president and his team remain engaged around the clock with multiple partners in the region,” Mr Kirby added.

“But as the president said just in the last 24 hours or so there’s no deal as of yet. And there’s a lot more work to do.”

The ceasefire, Mr Kirby said, would “hopefully” allow for a six-week pause, significantly longer than previous pauses in the fight.

“Maybe that could lead to something more in terms of a better approach to end the conflict,” he said.

At the State Department, spokesman Matthew Miller said that US diplomats – working with Qatar, Egypt and Israel – are “trying to push this deal over the finish line”, but that “ultimately, we would need Hamas to say yes.”

A Hamas official had earlier told BBC News the group’s priorities were on ending hostilities, rather than the release of hostages.

Israel launched a large-scale air and ground offensive in Gaza after Hamas gunmen killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel and took 253 hostages, some of whom have since been released.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip says at least 29,878 people have been killed in the territory since then – including 96 deaths in the past 24 hours – in addition to 70,215 who have been wounded.

Source: BBC

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