Netanyahu to ABC’s Muir: ‘No cease-fire’ without release of hostages

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(NEW YORK) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again rejected the idea of a cease-fire in Gaza unless hostages are released, speaking in an exclusive interview with ABC News “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir.

President Joe Biden and top administration officials have been pressuring Israel for temporary “humanitarian” pauses in the fighting so more aid can enter Gaza and more civilians can escape the fighting in the Palestinian territory.

Biden and Netanyahu discussed the matter as recently as Monday, according to the White House, though no apparent agreement was reached.

An extended version of the interview, Netanyahu’s first with U.S. media since the war began on Oct. 7, will air Monday on ABC News “World News Tonight” at 6:30 p.m. ET.

In the interview, Muir pressed Netanyahu on the Biden administration’s calls for humanitarian pauses in Gaza as the civilian death toll climbs; efforts to release the hostages; whether Netanyahu bears responsibility for the intelligence failures; who governs Gaza when the war is over, and more.

“What they’re proposing is a humanitarian pause, there will be no pause?” Muir asked Netanyahu.

“Well, there’ll be no cease-fire, general cease-fire, in Gaza without the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu responded. “As far as tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there. We’ve had them before, I suppose, will check the circumstances in order to enable goods, humanitarian goods to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages to leave. But I don’t think there’s going to be a general cease-fire.”

Netanyahu continued, “I think it will hamper the war effort. It’ll hamper our effort to get our hostages out because the only thing that works on these criminals in Hamas is the military pressure that we’re exerting.”

Muir then asked Netanyahu if there would be such a pause if Hamas to agree to the release of hostages. According to Israeli officials, 241 people are being held by the militant group.

“There will be a cease-fire for that purpose,” Netanyahu responded.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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