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President Biden on Friday pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to accept the creation of a Palestinian state once the war in Gaza ends and raised options that would limit Palestinian sovereignty to make the prospect more acceptable to Israel.

Hoping to overcome Netanyahu’s strenuous resistance, Biden raised the possibility of an unarmed Palestinian nation that would not threaten Israel’s security. While there was no indication that Netanyahu would ease opposition to him, who is popular among his fragile right-wing political coalition, Biden expressed optimism that they could still find consensus.

“There are several types of two-state solutions,” the president told reporters at the White House several hours after the call, the first in nearly a month amid tension over the war. “There are several countries that are members of the UN and that still do not have their own armies. “Number of states that have limitations.” And he added: “So I think there are ways this could work.”

Asked what Netanyahu was open to, Biden said: “I’ll let you know.” But he rejected the idea that the so-called two-state solution is impossible while Netanyahu is in power – “no, it is not” – and ruled out the idea of ​​imposing conditions on US security aid to Israel if the prime minister continues. resisting

“I think we will be able to reach an agreement,” Biden said.

The last time the two leaders were known to speak was on December 23, in a call that was later described as especially tense. The latest call came a day after Netanyahu told reporters in Israel that he had rejected Biden’s efforts to pressure him toward a two-state solution. Netanyahu said Israel must maintain security control “over all the territory west of the Jordan,” referring to both Gaza and the West Bank, despite American views. “The prime minister needs to be able to say no, even to our best friends,” Netanyahu told reporters.

Biden has argued that the creation of a Palestinian state that guarantees Israel’s security is the only viable long-term solution to a conflict that has dragged on for decades, repeating a position held by most US presidents and European leaders in the recent history. Meanwhile, Biden has suggested that a “revitalized” version of the Palestinian Authority, which partially rules the West Bank, also take over Gaza once Hamas has been removed from power there, another idea Netanyahu has rejected because he believes the authority It is corrupt and compromised by support for terrorists.

“The president still believes in the promise and possibility of a two-state solution,” National Security Council spokesman John F. Kirby told reporters at the White House after the call, which he said lasted between 30 and 40 minutes. . “He recognizes that will take a lot of work. A lot of leadership will be needed, particularly in the region, on both sides of the issue. And the United States is firmly committed to seeing that outcome at some point.”

Kirby said the two leaders also discussed hostages held by Hamas, humanitarian aid to Gaza, the release of tax payments to the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and the shift in Israel’s military strategy toward more surgical operations. But Kirby did not reveal specific new agreements and confirmed that leaders remained at odds over the prospect of a Palestinian state.

Biden and Netanyahu have known each other for decades, and the relationship between the left-wing president and the right-wing prime minister has long been complicated. They clashed last year over Netanyahu’s attempt to strip some power from Israel’s judiciary and over Biden’s push to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran.

After the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel, they put aside their differences to embrace each other both figuratively and literally. But as Israel’s war against Hamas has devastated much of Gaza and reportedly killed more than 24,000 fighters and civilians, its fighting has once again escalated.

The long interval between calls was itself an indication of friction. In the two and a half months between the Oct. 7 attack and their pre-Christmas conversation, Biden and Netanyahu spoke 14 times, or about once every five and a half days. This time it took 27 days to communicate again.

But Kirby tried to downplay the discord, characterizing their clashes as honest disagreements between friends. “We’re not going to agree on everything,” he said. “We have said that. Good friends and allies can have those kinds of honest and direct discussions, and we do.”

He rejected the perception that Biden was trying to force Netanyahu to accept a Palestinian state. “It’s not about trying to twist someone’s arm or force a change in their thinking,” he said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear his concern in this regard. President Biden has made clear his firm belief that a two-state solution remains the right path forward. And we are going to continue defending that case.”

Kirby warned Netanyahu about his use of language, referring to the prime minister’s statement that Israel must maintain security control over Gaza and the West Bank. Netanyahu, speaking in Hebrew, referred to “the entire territory west of the Jordan,” but some incorrectly translated it into English as “from the river to the sea,” a phrase that has drawn criticism.

This last phrase, often used by Palestinians and their supporters, is taken by many supporters of Israel as an anti-Semitic statement advocating the eradication of Israel, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the territories Palestinians. The House of Representatives censured Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., in November for using that phrase.

Asked about Netanyahu’s comment, Kirby said: “It’s not a phrase we recommend using because of that context.”