If the 72-hour cease-fire with Hamas is not going to be renewed after midnight, then Israel needs to take the initiative and roundly defeat Hamas as soon as possible, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday.
“Israel cannot allow itself a war of attrition,” Liberman said at a meeting with local council heads in the South held in Ashkelon. “We must subdue them, even at the price of escalation.” He said Israel could not accept a situation whereby it cannot roundly defeat 26,000 terrorists in Gaza.
After more than a month of Operation Protective Edge, he said, “it is time to say 'enough’.”
Echoing what he said Tuesday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Liberman said that without getting rid of Hamas it would be impossible to move forward with any wider security or diplomatic arrangement.
Liberman also made clear that his Yisrael Beytenu party would not accept any arrangement with Hamas that does not include the return of the remains of the two IDF soldiers in Hamas' hands.
“If the terrorists on the other side don't understand or are unwilling to accept that as part of a [ceasefire] framework, they must understand that they will get back instead the bodies of Mohammed Deff, [Ismail] Haniyeh, and all the Hamas leaders in Gaza,” he declared. .
Regarding the UN Human Rights Committee headed by Canadian professor William Schabas, Liberman said Israel will have to “deal” with the committee, but not “cooperate” with it.
Schabas -- who Liberman highlighted, has said that both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president Shimon Peres should be brought to the International Criminal Court -- should not be allowed to step inside Israel, he said.
“Israel should not cooperate with the committee,” he said. “We must deal with them, but not cooperate or give legitimization to haters of Israel.”
On Tuesday, during his interview with the Post, Liberman would not say whether Israel would cooperate with the probe, saying then only that “we don’t have to say what we are going to do.”