Netanyahu Says Hamas Started Negotiations ‘With Crazy Demands’: ‘In the Ballpark, They’re Not Even in the City’ | Video

The prime minister accused the host of “Face the Nation” of lobbing verbal “grenades” and insisted “the Israeli public has confidence in me”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that negotiations between the country and Hamas are being held up by the terrorist organization’s “crazy demands.” He explained, “You know, it’s too soon to say if they’ve abandoned them, but if they do abandon them and get into what you call the ballpark — they’re not even in the city. They’re in another planet.”

“But if they come down to a reasonable situation, then yes, we’ll have a hostage deal,” Netanyahu added. “I hope so.”

Anchor Margaret Brennan noted that the most recent negotiation proposal would free 30-40 hostages — many of whom are women, wounded and/or elderly — in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

The prime minister laid out his three “war goals” as they stand: to free the hostages, to eliminate Hamas and to “ensure that Gaza does not pose a threat to Israel in the future.”

About a threatened Israeli assault on the southern city of Rafah, where approximately 1.4 million people are sheltering, he added, “We can’t leave Hamas in place. We can’t leave a quarter of Hamas battalions in Rafah and say, ‘well, that’s fine, they’ll be there.’ It’s like saying a quarter of ISIS will be left and with a defined territory, because you know, they will reconstitute themselves immediately.”

The proposed negotiations would also allow for a six-week ceasefire in Palestine, but Netanyahu made it clear that Israel’s IDF would resume its military push into Rafah after that period. He told Brennan, “Yeah, well, victory is within reach, and you can’t have victory until you eliminate Hamas.”

“Hamas is a terrorist organization that– once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion — not months, weeks away from completion. And that is– we’ve already destroyed 18 of the 24 Hamas terrorist battalions. So we have– and four of them are concentrated in Rafah. We can’t leave the last Hamas stronghold without taking care of it, obviously, we have to do it,” Netanyahu insisted.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the U.S. has not been presented a plan that would ensure the protection of the Palestinians in Rafah and added, “We hope that in the coming days, we can drive to a point where there is actually a firm and final agreement on this issue.”

When confronted with that information, Netanyahu said he would be speaking with the IDF’s general staff, who would show him a proposal that includes a “plan to evacuate, and a plan to dismantle those remaining battalions.”

Of the Palestinians in Rafah, Netanyahu said the IDF has cleared combat zones north of the city where the people can go. Many of them were forced to travel 25 miles from northern Gaza to Rafah on foot and have since been living in tents.

Despite his insistence that the IDF can win the war against Hamas in a matter of weeks after a push into Rafah, Brennan pointed out that American intelligence has revealed the IDF has only eliminated 30% of Hamas leadership. She added, “There is a growing distrust of you personally, sir, in the U.S. Congress and within the Biden White House.”

Netanyahu responded that a lot of the information “that we were told by the best of friends initially, turned out not to be true.” He added, “John Spencer, who’s the head of urban warfare at West Point, says that no other army has gone to the lengths that Israel’s army has gone to clear civilians out of harm’s way, even though Hamas—” before Brennan interjected, “Sure, but the former head of Central Command was on this program just a few weeks ago and said, basically, you have not articulated any specific end game here.”

Clearly frustrated, Netanyahu fired back, “Wait a minute Margaret, Margaret, hold on, you– you lob these– these grenades at me and you keep on moving. Well, first of all, you say, there’s no confidence me? Well, the Israeli public has confidence in me.”

After Brennan brought up Saturday’s violent anti-government protests in Israel, Netanyahu added, “The Knesset voted overwhelmingly– of course, we have protests. We have protests, Israel is a democracy that protests for 30 years. But the Israeli people are united as never before.”

“Last week, they voted 99 to 9 in the Knesset for my proposal that says that the way– that we have to do two things: we have to win the war, have total victory, but also not have an international dictate of a Palestinian state on it– shoved down our throats that would endanger Israel, but people are overwhelmingly united on this.”

Watch the interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the video above.

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