Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rejected a new UN report alleging that Israel committed war crimes during its Gaza offensive, warning world leaders that they and their forces could be targets for similar charges.
Speaking to television stations before the New Year, Netanyahu also said that world leaders cannot wait for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement to affirm Israel's right to protect itself.
"So I am telling international leaders: You are telling us that you support our right of self defense. Don't tell us that after the next agreement, tell us now," Netanyahu told Channel 2. "Reject the findings of this commission."
Netanyahu went on to say that he would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza if it were demilitarized, as a way of "avoiding the next Goldstone report" on an Israeli operation against Palestinian militants.
US President Barak Obama's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, is scheduled to meet Netanyahu early Friday after extending his stay in the region by several days. But the prime minister did not indicate he is giving in to the main US demand - a freeze of construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
"There is a slowdown in settlement construction, but not a freeze," he told Channel 10. "I'm not willing to freeze life."
Mitchell is hoping to arrange a meeting between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas next week in New York, during the session of the UN General Assembly. Netanyahu said no meeting has been scheduled so far.
"At this moment none has been arranged," he said. "I hope there will be one. I never asked for one and I never laid down conditions for one."
"I say to [Abbas], 'You have to choose, are you [former Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat, or are you [former Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat?'"
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