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Netanyahu Rejects Hamas Deal to End War, Rebuffs Biden Plan for 2-State Solution

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JERUSALEM, Israel – As Israel's military makes further advances in southern Gaza, the U.S. and Israel disagree on what happens after the war ends. Signs of a wider conflict, meanwhile, are spreading throughout the region. 

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas' demands for a deal to end the war. Their demands included a ceasefire, a halt to Israel's military campaign, and the release of thousands of Palestinians held by Israel in exchange for the remaining hostages.

“If we agree to this, our warriors fell in vain," Netanyahu explained. "If we agree to this, we will not be able to guarantee the security of our citizens, we will not be able to return the evacuees safely to their homes, and next October 7th will only be a matter of time. I am not ready to put up with such a fatal injury to Israel's security, so we will not agree to it."

Netanyahu also denied a claim by President Biden that the prime minister might be open to "some type" of a two-state solution.

"My insistence is what prevented for years the establishment of a Palestinian state, which would have posed an existential danger to Israel. As long as I am prime minister, I will continue to firmly stand by it. If someone has a different position, let them show leadership and state their position honestly to the citizens of Israel," Netanyahu challenged.

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Iran's president vowed to avenge Saturday's Israeli strike that killed five Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps leaders in Syria. The strike raises concerns of a wider war between Iran and Israel.

The U.S. also struck a top Shiite Muslim leader in Baghdad, Iraq, responsible for some of the more than 120 rocket and drone attacks on U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq. 

Israel warned Washington that the window is closing for a diplomatic plan to push Hezbollah back from the northern border with Lebanon. Last month, Israel gave the U.S. – which has been conducting shuttle diplomacy with Beirut – an end-of-January deadline, but a report Friday noted it's not a "hard deadline."

On Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces released footage of a Gaza tunnel where they believe Hamas kept 20 hostages. The footage showed several rooms with mattresses on the ground, dirty dishes, and a bathroom. The tunnel stretched for about half a mile and was more than 60 feet deep.  

An estimated 136 hostages still remain in Hamas captivity.

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