Israeli ambassador: Hamas ‘not interested in peace’
In an exclusive interview with the Townsquare News Network, Israel's ambassador to the United states said Thursday that his country "stands ready" to continue the current cease-fire in Gaza, but that any such extension "depends on Hamas."
Responding to questions from Townsquare's Eric Scott, Ambassador Ron Dermer said: "We've had a cease-fire now for two days --a little bit more than 2 days--and we hope that cease-fire will continue. And then we'll be able to insure that the people of Israel get quiet and security. And we think this is not only good for Israel but it's also good for the Palestinians in Gaza."
But Dermer was unyielding in his description of Hamas as an unsuitable negotiating partner.
"Hamas is committed to the destruction of the state of Israel," he said. "They're very open about it. They're also committed, by the way, to the murder of Jews around the world-- it's part of their charter."
Only Israel's massive military response could have broken through that posture, he said, by "degrading" Hamas' terror capabilities and "showing them that they will not be able to rocket our cities with impunity. . . that it's not a good idea to continue this struggle."
Asked about criticism of the heavy civilian casualty toll in Gaza, Dermer said Israel had taken unprecedented steps to warn Palestinian civilians "out of harms way" and described what he called a resulting "one-to-one" ratio of military to civilian deaths as "remarkable" in an environment of urban combat.
He quickly added, however, that Israel considers any civilian death "a tragedy" and "an operational failure."
Dermer also dismissed complaints by some Israeli supporters that the United States --and the Obama administration in particular-- has not sufficiently backed Israel in the current Gaza conflict. He quoted President Obama's Wednesday declaration of "no sympathy for Hamas" and support of Israel's right to defend itself and cited White House and Congressional support for increased funding of Israel's Iron Dome rocket defense system.
When the US and Israel disagree on the best means to achieve long term Mideast peace or curb the nuclear ambitions of Iran, Dermer said, the two nations always do so "as allies," adding that Israel has "no greater friend" in the world than the United States.