Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahumet with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and said at the start of their meeting:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "It's good to see you in Israel in these trying times. I think you, as a representative of the UK, of Britain, have a special understanding, at least a historical understanding, of what Israel is undergoing. There's only been one other instance where a democracy has been rocketed and pelleted with these projectiles of death, and that's Britain during World War II. Israel is undergoing a similar bombardment now. We're responding in our own way by targeting the rocketeers and seeking to ferret out these terrorists who are hiding behind civilians while firing at our civilians.
This is a double war crime, and naturally it's made more difficult for us to fight this criminality because as I've just shown you, the terrorists are firing rockets from schools, from mosques, from hospitals, from heavily civilian populations; and we have to try and are doing our best to minimize civilian casualties. But we cannot give our attackers immunity or impunity. We seek as best as we can to target them, but all the civilian deaths that are there - and we regret each one of them - are the responsibility of the Hamas, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terrorists who are in league with them.
This use of human shields is extraordinarily cynical. It's grotesque. It's inhuman. But what is equally grotesque is that Israel was condemned in the Human Rights Council. It's a travesty of justice; it's a travesty of fairness; it's a travesty of common sense; it's a travesty of truth. And I think that it will not prevent us from continuing to act to defend our people, to protect them against rocket attacks and to dismantle the vast terror tunnels network that we have seen that is geared to penetrate our territory. We'll continue with that activity in order to defend our people.
I want to thank you and Prime Minister Cameron for standing up for Israel's right to defend itself. I'm also aware of the fact that British Airways continues and continued its flights during the last few days, and that was equally appreciated. I thank you for keeping your moral focus and your moral clarity. We shall need it in the days ahead."
British Foreign Secretary Hammond: "Thank you, Prime Minister. I'm pleased to be here so early in my tenure as British Foreign Secretary and I'm here because the UK, along with the rest of the international community, is determined to do everything that it can to help to bring this current conflict to a quick end.
Britain has been very clear, I have been very clear, Prime Minister Cameron has been very clear, that this current cycle of violence was triggered by Hamas firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns and cities indiscriminately and in breach of international humanitarian law. Britain has also been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens, but we are gravely concerned by the ongoing heavy level of civilian casualties.
We want to see a ceasefire quickly agreed. We welcomed the earlier ceasefire proposal by Egypt, and we were grateful to you, Prime Minister, for your immediate agreement to it. We are disappointed that Hamas has apparently once again rejected ceasefire proposals.
I'm looking forward to discussing with you immediately after this conference how we can help to bring an end to this conflict and how we can work together to break the cycle of violence so that the Israeli people and the Palestinian people can live in peace and security. Thank you."
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