Netanyahu appears to walk back remarks rejecting Biden cease-fire deal

Netanyahu appears to walk back remarks rejecting Biden cease-fire deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday appeared to walk back comments he made the day before that seemed to reject a cease-fire deal President Biden backed in the Israel-Hamas war.

Netanyahu on Monday told the Knesset he was “committed” to the plan, in remarks that drew praise from the White House.

“We will not end the war until we return all of our hostages — 120 hostages, the living and the deceased. We are committed to the Israeli proposal, which President Biden has welcomed,” he said. “Our position has not changed.”

A day before, Netanyahu said he supported a “partial deal,” in comments that cast doubt about his support for Biden’s three-phased cease-fire proposal announced last month.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller welcomed Netanyahu’s message.

“I think all of us that speak publicly, at times, make mistakes and misspeak,” he told Al-Monitor. And when we do so, we have an obligation to come clarify, and we’re glad he did.”

Hamas leaders have also shown reluctance over accepting the deal. Hamas has insisted it will not release the remaining hostages unless there’s a permanent cease-fire and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, which Netanyahu has resisted.

Tensions between the Biden administration and Netanyahu have risen throughout the war.

Early this month, Biden said there’s “every reason” to think Netanyahu is prolonging the Israel-Hamas war for his political gain, one of his sharpest attacks against the Israeli leader.

Netanyahu also said Sunday that the Israeli offensive in Gaza is “winding down,” but warned a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon could be on the horizon as border tensions rise. The Biden administration has strongly pressured Netanyahu and the Israeli government not to invade Lebanon, fearful of a wider regional war.

Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown warned Sunday that Iran would likely back Hezbollah if Israel were to launch an offensive, effectively turning fighting into a proxy war and potentially putting American service members at risk.

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