Skip to main content

Israel's Netanyahu says no permanent Gaza ceasefire until Hamas destroyed

The prime minister's comments come a day after Biden outlined details of three-phase proposal
Mourners react next to the bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli strike on an area designated for displaced people, during their funeral in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, 27 May 2024 (Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Hamas's destruction was part of an Israeli plan presented by US President Joe Biden to end the war on Gaza.

Netanyahu’s statement came a day after Biden said Israel had proposed a new roadmap towards a full ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for Hamas releasing Israeli captives.

"Israel's conditions for ending the war have not changed: The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel," Netanyahu said.

"Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place. The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter.”

Biden called on Israel and Hamas to accept a three-phase deal that includes the release of captives in Gaza, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the enclave, a permanent ceasefire and an exchange of prisoners.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The proposal Biden outlined in great detail appeared nearly identical to the one Hamas agreed to and Israel rejected in early May. The main exception appeared to be no reference to the complete lifting of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas on Friday welcomed Biden’s proposal, saying the group viewed it “positively”.

Israel’s opposition leader on Saturday urged Netanyahu to back the proposal and expressed his party's support for the deal.

“The government of Israel cannot ignore President Biden’s consequential speech. There is a deal on the table, and it should be made,” Yair Lapid said on X.

“I remind Netanyahu that he has a safety net from us for a hostage-release deal if [Israeli Security Minister Itamar] Ben Gvir and [Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel] Smotrich leave the government.”

Three-phase roadmap

Biden said the first phase of the proposed deal would last for six weeks and would include a “full and complete ceasefire”, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all densely populated areas of Gaza, and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

UK denies medical treatment to critically injured children from Gaza
Read More »

Palestinians would also be able to return to “all areas of Gaza” and 600 aid trucks would enter the enclave each day. 

In the second phase, Biden said there would be an exchange for all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, as Israeli forces withdraw from Gaza and the permanent ceasefire begins.

Biden said to move from phase one to phase two, several details needed to be worked out, but he promised that the ceasefire would continue to hold as negotiations progressed.

The third phase would include a major reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the "final remains" of captives to their families.

Israeli forces meanwhile pounded southern Gaza on Saturday morning, with residents in west Rafah reporting incessant aerial and artillery bombardment, according to AFP.

There was also Israel shelling and gunfire reported in Gaza City, in the north of the enclave.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.