Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a temporary cease-fire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. During a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Netanyahu stated that any cease-fire must be contingent on the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. He emphasized that Israel's military operation will continue "with full force" until this condition is met.
The Biden administration had previously expressed its support for temporary pauses in military operations to allow for the safe release of hostages and the delivery of humanitarian aid. Secretary Blinken, in a press conference, stressed the need to protect Palestinian civilians and stated that their plight must not be ignored.
The conflict, which began on October 7, has resulted in Hamas taking 241 Israeli hostages, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari. Hamas has released some hostages in recent weeks and has offered to release more in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
In a separate development, the Republican-led House passed a $14.3 billion aid package for Israel, the first such proposal since the start of the conflict. The bill faces opposition from Democrats due to the source of its funding, which would cut money allocated for the Internal Revenue Service in the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill passed in the House with most Democrats opposing it and faces uncertain prospects in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The Biden administration has also been pushing for joint foreign aid packages to Israel and Ukraine, but the assistance to Ukraine has faced opposition from far-right lawmakers.
In summary, Prime Minister Netanyahu has rejected calls for a temporary cease-fire without the release of Israeli hostages, defying pleas for pauses in military operations to allow for humanitarian aid. The conflict continues to escalate, with ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages and provide assistance to civilians caught in the crossfire. The aid package for Israel passed by the House faces opposition from Democrats due to its funding source, and joint aid packages for Israel and Ukraine remain politically divisive.