Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defiantly vowed his country would “stand alone” if its closest ally followed through on threats to suspend arms shipments over a full-scale invasion of Rafah, where more than 1 million people have taken refuge.

Speaking Thursday after President Joe Biden’s warning sparked fury and infighting among his senior figures, Netanyahu said Israel would “fight with our fingernails” in order to pursue its proclaimed goal of eliminating Hamas — with or without the backing of the United States, which until recent months had been in little doubt.

In a separate taped interview with reality show host Phil McGraw that aired later Thursday, Netanyahu noted his decadeslong relationship with Biden and said “we often had our agreements, but we’ve had our disagreements. We’ve been able to overcome them.”

“I hope we can overcome them now, but we will do what we have to do to protect our country, and that means to protect our future. And that means we will defeat Hamas, including in Rafah. We have no other choice,” he said.

The rupture between the two allies comes as talks stalled in a U.S. push for a cease-fire that would head off a ground assault on Rafah.

Israeli and Hamas delegations left Cairo without a deal to end the fighting in the Gaza Strip and secure the release of hostages still held in the enclave. A senior Arab negotiator directly involved in the talks told NBC News they had taken a turn for the worse. “It’s a mess,” the negotiator said, adding that they had deteriorated after Israel entered Rafah. “Everything collapsed after entering Rafah,” he said.

When asked about the effectiveness of CIA Director William Burns’ efforts at shuttle diplomacy, the source said “he tried with the Israelis and it seems it was a bad day for him.”

With no truce in sight, Israeli forces have continued to bombard areas of Rafah and conduct ground operations in parts of the city.

More than 100,000 people have now fled eastern Rafah following evacuation orders from Israeli forces earlier this week, the United Nations said Friday.

Aid groups, doctors and local officials have expressed mounting concern that hospitals in the overcrowded southern city are being overwhelmed and that supplies of food and fuel are running short even before a full-scale Israeli assault.

Israel says it must enter Rafah to fight Hamas militants hiding there, but the city has been filled with Palestinians sheltering in dire conditions, many who have been displaced by fighting elsewhere in the enclave.

The White House said this was at the core of Biden’s message to Netanyahu. “Smashing into Rafah in his view will not advance that objective,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday night.


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