In their first meeting since the downing of a Russian jet during an Israeli airstrike in Syria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Vladimir Putin met briefly on the sidelines of Sunday’s World War I Centenary ceremony in Paris.
Addressing a press conference, Netanyahu said that “the conversation with President Putin was good and businesslike. I would even describe it as very important,” adding that he also met with US President Donald Trump.
He would not give any further details on either conversation, but did choose to address the reasons why Israel complied with Hamas’s demand and delivered the $15 million for Qatar.
“This was the right decision,” he said. “We did it to avoid a humanitarian collapse in Gaza and to avoid unnecessary war. We don’t want a war. I do everything that I can to avoid unnecessary war – I am not afraid of war if it is necessary, but I want to prevent it when it is not necessary.”
He said that Israel had recently been “one step away from using maximum force in Gaza, and Hamas understood this,” and backed down.
Netanyahu highlighted that “there is no diplomatic solution to Gaza, just as there is no political solution to the issue of ISIS.
“I never prevented the entry of food, fuel to Gaza. We try to differentiate between the population and its government. It is difficult, but we are trying to prevent a humanitarian collapse,” he said.
Asked about what the solution could be from a political point of view, Netanyahu said that Hamas was not about to accept or recognize the Jewish state.
“If they did, there would be many solutions and possibilities… If an enemy wants to destroy you, what is there to talk about? Do you talk about how they’re going to annihilate you? You can’t have a political solution. We do the minimum that’s necessary to keep things quiet,” he said.
“Right now we have a period of [relative] quiet and I will do anything and everything I can to keep it going.”
Discussing Europe’s relationship with Israel, he said that while sitting at the table with heads of European states, he made it clear how important it is for them to connect and have good ties with Israel.
“I do not hide my dissatisfaction with the fact that the European Union attacks and criticizes Israel, which is a real barrier against the spread of radical Islam, Sunni or Shiite, in Europe,” the prime minister said.
Written by Ilanit Chernick | Photo by GPO