PM on cancellation of Washington delegation: We value dialogue with US but needed to send message

Asked about the decision to delay the delegation to Washington after last week’s Security Council vote, Netanyahu says he told the Americans the night before the vote that he would keep top aides Tzachi Hanegbi and Ron Dermer home if the administration withheld its veto and the resolution went through.

He repeats that there had been no previous UN Security Council resolution that did not condition a pause in the fighting on the release of hostages.

“I told them, ‘Don’t do it. It will send an extremely grave message to Hamas: They don’t have to release a single hostage, and they can get a ceasefire.”

“We are still and always interested in hearing from our American friends, even when we have disagreements with them. They have things to say on the humanitarian issue and on the evacuation of the population. We hear it, we will hear it in the future.

“We will find the way to dialogue on this issue. But I thought it was important to send the message on that very day to the entire international community, and also to Hamas. And that was an important message that I stand behind.”

He is asked about this month’s state inquiry report into the Meron disaster, which said he bore personal responsibility, and says Israel had “learned the lessons even before the report.”

He promises to deal with the operational conclusions. As for the issue of his own personal responsibility, he says, “Israel is a democratic state and the citizens of Israel will decide on this.”

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