Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the opening session of the Knesset, October 15, 2018.
(photo credit: ESTI DESIOVOV/TPS)
There is no possibility of a peace deal with Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, explaining that to do so would be akin to finalizing a diplomatic agreement with ISIS.
“There is no diplomatic solution to Gaza,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a rare public news conference in Paris. “I don’t have a solution for ISIS or Iran that want to destroy us.”
Such a diplomatic resolution would only be possible if Hamas agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and stop its attempts to destroy it.
“You cannot have a political resolution with those committed to your dissolution – that’s absurd,” Netanyahu said. “If your enemy wants to destroy you, what can you talk about?”
At best, he said, one can take a series of steps to reach an understanding to maintain calm and prevent an outbreak of violence.
Netanyahu spoke as Gaza violence threatens to erupt into a full scale war between Israel and Hamas. To prevent that outbreak, the United Nations and Egypt continue intense efforts to broker a cease-fire understanding between Israel and Hamas.
To help those efforts, Israel has refrained from a harsh military response to Hamas violence from Gaza and instead has supported a number of humanitarian gestures.
This includes facilitating the transfer of Qatari-funded fuel into the Gaza Strip to alleviate the electricity crisis as well as $15 million in cash from Qatar
to pay for civil servant salaries.
Both gestures offset economic sanctions against Hamas by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, intended to weaken the terror group’s hold on Gaza.
Netanyahu admitted that at present there is no oversight mechanism for the cash, but said that one might be developed in the future.
At this time, he said, it is important to prevent a humanitarian collapse in Gaza, so that a “needless war” can be avoided there.
‘I am not afraid of a war if one is needed, but I want to prevent a situation in which we have to go to war,” Netanyahu said.
There is a two-step process, in which calm is restored and then an understanding is reached to halt the violence, he said.
Only in the second stage is it possible to deal with the issue of the remains of the two soldiers and the two captives that are held in Gaza, Netanyahu said.
“I am not giving up on the captives,” he said.
Leaders, he said, take the kind of steps that have to be taken in Gaza, to restore security, avoid needless war and prevent humanitarian collapse.
“I can’t promise that the calm will persist; if it doesn’t we will employ force. We were very close [recently], very close to resorting to force – I think Hamas understood that,” Netanyahu said.
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