Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shakes hands with then-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz during the 2014 Gaza conflict..
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Channel 10 on Friday that Operation Protective Edge “might have” presented an opportunity for a diplomatic breakthrough in the region, although it was incumbent on the Palestinian Authority to "give Hamas a divorce."
“Today there might be a new set of circumstances that enable us to act in a way that on the one hand we could advance our security interests and also launch a responsible diplomatic process on the basis of this new reality,” Netanyahu said.
The premier did caution that “it was premature to establish this with certainty, but it isn’t too early to investigate this, and I’m investigating it.”
Netanyahu told Channel 10 that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would “have to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas,” meaning that he would need to dismantle the unity government in Ramallah that has Hamas’ official backing.
“If he chooses the path of peace, and I think he understands today that he needs to choose that over Hamas, which not only calls for our destruction but also wishes to topple him,” the premier said. “Hamas acted to remove him.”
When asked whether the Gaza operation persuaded Netanyahu that Abbas was the only possible partner for Israel in this region, Netanyahu replied that he hoped to cooperate with the Palestinian leader in the future.
“I very much hope that we can cooperate with Abu Mazen (Abbas’ nom de guerre) in the diplomatic process as well,” Netanyahu said.
“When I had to choose whether I wanted Hamas to enter Judea and Samaria or whether Abu Mazen and the PA enter Gaza, I chose the second option, not the first,” Netanyahu said.
“He needs to choose between peace with Israel, or Hamas,” the prime minister said. “It’s one of the two. “The PA chairman understands this. He understands that this gang (Hamas) was about to topple him, and we exposed this.”
“I can only hope” that Abbas “gives Hamas a divorce,” Netanyahu said.