Netanyahu: We’re attacking Iran directly

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press conference on January 18, 2024. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press conference on January 18, 2024. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Netanyahu is asked if he feels he has anything to apologize for regarding the events surrounding October 7. He says the way the question was framed is designed “to stain” him.

“Nobody is immune from mistakes, including me,” he says, but then again criticizes the reporter. “I’ll continue to fight Hamas, and you’ll continue to fight me,” he says. “That’s the division of work,” he says, between him and the TV studios.

In response to another reporter, who asks why Israel is sufficing with attacks on Iran’s proxies rather than attacking Iran directly, Netanyahu responds, “Who says we aren’t attacking Iran? We are attacking Iran.”

“Iran has further phases to go through that I won’t detail” on the path to nuclear weapons,” he says. “I am obligated as the prime minister of Israel to do everything to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.”

Asked about the progress of the war, he says 16 or 17 of Hamas’s 24 battalions have been destroyed. “After that, there is the [phase] of clearing the territory [of remaining gunmen]. The first action is usually shorter, the second usually takes longer.”

He derides talk of holding elections at a time of war — with campaigns that would “divide the people rather than uniting the people… Are people seriously suggesting elections?”

“There’ll be time for politics after the war,” he says.

Regarding reports that he invited opposition party leaders Yair Lapid and Avigdor Liberman to join the coalition, he says, “I didn’t make any offers.”

The current emergency war coalition is stable and should be maintained, he says.

“Going to elections would be irresponsible and would badly halt the war effort,” he says.

“The ones who are hoping for this, and for all the other things we hear in the TV studios night after night, are Hamas and also its backer Iran. We won’t give this to them. We will bring complete victory.”

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