Israel prioritises security needs at Gaza talks

Monday 18 August 2014 14.51
Benjamin Netanyahu made the comments at the start of a cabinet meeting
Benjamin Netanyahu made the comments at the start of a cabinet meeting

Israel will not agree to any long-term ceasefire in Gaza at indirect talks in Cairo unless its security needs are clearly met, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said.

"The Israeli delegation in Cairo is acting with a very clear mandate to stand firmly on Israel's security needs," Mr Netanyahu told ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Israel's negotiators are in Cairo for indirect talks with the Palestinians over a long-term arrangement to end more than a month of bloodshed in Gaza.

The Egyptian-brokered talks are taking place during a five-day lull in the fighting between Israeli and Gaza's Hamas de facto rulers.

The ceasefire is due to expire at midnight (10pm Irish time) tomorrow.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Palestinians would not back down from their demands and said the outcome of the talks was in Israel's hands.

Central to Hamas's demands is a lifting of Israel's eight-year blockade on the enclave. Hamas's spokesman said: "We are committed to achieving the Palestinian demands and there is no way back from this."

He added: "All these demands are basic human rights that do not need this battle or these negotiations."

However, Mr Netanyahu warned that Hamas, which he said had suffered a major military blow, would not walk away from the Cairo talks with any political success.

"If Hamas thinks it will make up for its military losses with a political achievement, it is wrong," he said.

"If Hamas thinks that by continuing the steady trickle of rocket fire it will force us to make concessions, it is wrong.

"As long as there is no quiet, Hamas will continue to suffer heavy blows.

"Hamas knows we have a lot of power but maybe it thinks we don't have enough determination and patience, and even there it is wrong, it is making a big mistake," he said.