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Israel is deeply disappointed over US abstention at UN says Dermer: ‘The wrong message at the wrong time’

Israel's strategic affairs minister labels accusations of ‘starvation’ in Gaza a ‘blood libel’ against Israel; insists 'no chance' IDF won't take action in Gaza

Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer in a FOX News interview, March 26, 2024 (Photo: Screenshot)

Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer gave a blitz of interviews to American media outlets on Tuesday, following heightened tensions with the U.S. Biden administration.

During interviews on FOX News, Bloomberg and NPR, Dermer said that Israel was “very disappointed” by the U.S. decision to abstain in the UN Security Council (UNSC) vote that called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, allowing it to pass 14-0.

He warned his U.S. counterparts in advance that this would send “the wrong message at the wrong time.”

“It was the wrong message, because it's not connecting the issue of a ceasefire with the return of the hostages. And why is it such bad timing? Because we had negotiators in Doha trying to get an agreement to release hostages, and it's not surprising that Hamas decided to reject the latest proposal that was put forward by the Americans… Why should they not reject it? They think they're going to get a ceasefire without giving up the hostages, because that's what the resolution said,” Dermer stressed.

The Israeli minister explained that the approved UN resolution constitutes a clear departure from the consistent American position throughout the war of opposing a ceasefire without conditions, specifically one that does not demand the release of hostages.

“Unfortunately, in this text that was passed, those two issues were separated for the first time. In fact, five days before, there was a resolution that the United States put forward that was vetoed by China and Russia. And one of the reasons why they vetoed it is because it connected those two issues,” Dermer noted.

White House National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby insisted on Monday that there has been no change in America's position, confirming that the U.S. only supports a permanent ceasefire if the hostages are returned.

Dermer said he was “glad” to hear that while adding: “But that's not the text of the resolution, and that's why Hamas celebrated the resolution and welcomed it. That's why Iran welcomed it. Believe me, any resolution by the UN Security Council that Hamas welcomes is not a good resolution for Israel.”

The U.S. decision prompted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to cancel a planned delegation to Washington, that was supposed to be headed by Dermer and other top Israeli officials.

The delegation was expected to listen to suggestions for an alternative plan in Rafah instead of a major Israeli military operation. Both the Israeli government and military leadership are convinced that operating in the southern city is essential to winning the war in Gaza.

“The president asked the Prime Minister of Israel to send the delegation so that we can hear their ideas,” Dermer told Bloomberg.

“We have our defense minister in Washington now. I'm sure he's discussing this with them, but I think the timing was particularly problematic because of the message that this UN Security Council resolution was sending. It was a very, very bad message, both for the hostage negotiations. And also, we have to be very clear with Hamas… the last thing we want them to believe, that the international pressure on Israel will get us to simply not finish the war. That's not going to happen.”

Over the weekend, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris expressed her opposition to an extensive Israeli operation in Rafah, telling ABC News in an interview: "We have been clear in multiple conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake.”

She claimed that civilians in Rafah have “nowhere to go” and implied that the U.S. may take action against Israel if it decides to go ahead regardless. 

When asked about potential consequences, Harris replied: "I am ruling out nothing.”

Dermer responded on FOX: “Let me tell you the consequences of us not going into Rafah and not getting rid of these four battalions of Hamas. Essentially, we have dismantled the terrorist army of Hamas. We have five battalions left – four of them are in Rafah. They have maybe 7,000-8,000 terrorists there. We cannot afford to not go into Rafah and finish the job, because then what they’ll do is October 7 again and again and again. There is no chance that Israel is not going to go and finish the job in Rafah.”

“People in the United States have to understand that the people of Israel see what happened on October 7th as an existential threat to the country,” Dermer added during the Bloomberg interview

“It's not because I think Hamas can destroy the State of Israel. They cannot. But if we do not destroy the terror organization that did that on October 7th, if we do not take them out as a military organization in Gaza, then I truly believe that this country has no future because all the buzzards who are circling around Israel and are looking to see what's going to happen to Hamas after they perpetrated that attack. They have to understand that Hamas is a terror organization in Gaza as a military is finished.”

Speaking with NPR, Dermer pushed against allegations that Israel was “starving” the population in Gaza.

“Those who suggest that Israel has a policy of denying food or basic assistance to the people of Gaza are simply spreading falsehoods. It's a blood libel against Israel. When the dust settles, people will see the truth on what's happening in Gaza,” the strategic affairs minister said.

Dermer urged the world not to believe statistics and claims coming from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Health Ministry or Hamas propaganda.

“The information that we have in Israel - and I think we have a pretty good idea of what’s happening in Gaza - is that there is no starvation. We have ramped up humanitarian assistance. We continue to do so. We don’t have any interest in harming the people of Gaza,” he added.

According to COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), Israel has facilitated the entry of a couple of hundred trucks into Gaza every day over the past month. They say more trucks are currently entering Gaza daily than before the war started.

“Our military did an analysis of how much calories are entering, and it’s 3,000 calories per person in Gaza. So, even if half of that is distorted for some reason, you still have 1,500 calories per day per person in Gaza,” Dermer explained.

Israel stressed that the problem was not with getting humanitarian aid inside Gaza, but rather how to distribute it to civilians – which was not under Israel’s responsibility. 

“We can bring it to the border, inspect it and bring it to the other side, but distributing it has become a huge problem because a lot of people are stealing it. Gangs are taking it over and Hamas are taking it over as well,” Dermer explained.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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