No Alternative for Rafah Invasion, Netanyahu Says, as Rift With U.S. Grows

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Tuesday brushed aside President Biden’s opposition to a planned ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, saying that his government would press ahead despite pleas for restraint from the United States and key allies.

Mr. Netanyahu made the remarks to Israeli lawmakers a day after speaking by phone with Mr. Biden, who reiterated his stance against an offensive into Rafah, arguing that it could be disastrous for the people there and that Israel had other ways of achieving its objective of defeating Hamas.

At the president’s request, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to send a team of Israeli officials to Washington to hear U.S. concerns and to discuss Rafah, but a day later he insisted there was no alternative. Sending troops into the city is necessary, Mr. Netanyahu said on Tuesday, to eliminate Hamas battalions in the city.

“I made it as clear as possible to the president that we are determined to complete the elimination of these battalions in Rafah, and there is no way to do this without a ground incursion,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

The Israeli leader acknowledged the dispute with the Biden administration and said that Israel was engaged “in a dual campaign,” one military and one diplomatic.

“The diplomatic fight gives us the time and the resources to reach the full results of the war,” he said.

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