Netanyahu: Regional Changes Promise New 'Diplomatic Horizon'

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israeli prime minister says Gaza operation not over, denies U.S.-Israel ties under strain.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, August 20, 2014 in Tel Aviv.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, August 20, 2014 in Tel Aviv. Credit: AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that dramatic changes in the region promise a "new political horizon," even as Hamas and Israel continued to exchange fire after the collapse of truce talks on Tuesday.

"I hope [Palestinian President] Abbas will have a significant part in the new diplomatic horizon. I expect to start talks with a Palestinian government which can abandon the path of terror," Netanyahu said in a press conference in the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Answering a reporter's question, the prime minister denied that ties between Israel and the United States have become strained during the Gaza operation, and commended the U.S. for its support of Israel's "right to self-defense" and for approving more funds for Iron Dome batteries.

The prime minister discussed the Gaza operation, Operation Protective Edge, and said that though it was not over, Hamas has been dealt a "heavy blow."

"In recent weeks we've dealt Hamas a harsh blow. We've prevented, via Iron Dome, thousands of rockets from hitting our communities, and we destroyed thousands of rockets.

"We've dismantled its abilities in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and its attempts to stage a coup there. We're determined to pursue the campaign with all means at our disposal and we won't stop."

During the question period, Netanyahu said that commanders of Palestinian militant groups are legitimate targets for Israeli attacks. "No Hamas member is immune," he said. Earlier on Wednesday, Hamas said that an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip failed to kill the group's military arm commander Mohammed Deif, though it killed his wife and daughter. Netanyahu did not refer to reports of that attack.

Violence between the Hamas-controlled enclave and Israel continued on Wednesday, a day after talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in Cairo. Palestinian sources reported 22 people were killed and over 100 wounded in Israeli strikes since Tuesday. According to the IDF, over 150 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza, targeting the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas as well as the south.

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