Netanyahu rejects Hamas ceasefire terms vowing Israel will fight until 'absolute victory'

Netanyahu made the comments on Wednesday shortly after meeting the visiting US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, ITV News International Correspondent John Irvine reports

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected Hamas demands for a ceasefire and vowed to press ahead with military action in Gaza until achieving “absolute victory.”

Netanyahu made the comments on Wednesday shortly after meeting the visiting US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, who was in the region in hopes of securing a ceasefire agreement.

Blinken said an agreement between the sides was still possible.

“We are on the way to an absolute victory,” Netanyahu said, adding the operation would last months, not years. "There is no other solution."

He ruled out any arrangement that leaves Hamas in full or partial control of Gaza adding that Israel is the “only power” capable of guaranteeing security in the long term.

Netanyahu also called for the replacement of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Israel's President Isaac Herzog talk. Credit: AP

Speaking at a news conference later on Wednesday, Blinken said the toll from Israel’s military offensive on Gaza’s civilians remains “too high”.

Thousands of civilians have been killed in the fighting, and the offensive has displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and led to a humanitarian crisis.

“As I told the prime minister and other Israeli officials, the daily toll that its military operations continue to take on innocent civilians remains too high,” Blinken said.

Blinken had previously said that “a lot of work” remains to bridge the gap between Israel and Hamas on terms of any deal.

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Hamas suggested a detailed three-part plan with each phase lasting 45 days, responding to a proposal drawn up by the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt.

The plan stipulates all hostages would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, including senior militants, and an end to the war.

Israel has made destroying Hamas’ governing and military abilities one of its wartime objectives, and Hamas' proposal would effectively leave it in power in Gaza and allow it to rebuild its military capabilities.

US president Joe Biden said Hamas' demands are “a little over the top” but that negotiations will continue.

The deadliest round of fighting in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has killed over 27,000 Palestinians, leveled entire neighbourhoods, driven the vast majority of Gaza's population from their homes and pushed a quarter of the population to starvation.

Iran-backed militant groups across the region have carried out attacks, mostly on US and Israeli targets, in solidarity with the Palestinians, drawing reprisals as the risk of a wider conflict grows.

Palestinian protester burns a poster with a picture of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a protest against his visit. Credit: AP

Israel remains deeply shaken by the October 7 attack when Hamas militants burst through the country's vaunted defences and rampaged across southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting about 250. Around half of the hostages remain in captivity in Gaza.

Blinken, who is on his fifth visit to the region since the war broke out, is trying to advance the ceasefire talks while pushing for a larger postwar settlement in which Saudi Arabia would normalise relations with Israel in return for a “clear, credible, time-bound path to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

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