PLO, Israeli envoys talk past each other

A leading diplomat for Palestine on Sunday said he wants to see an end to the latest round of violence between Israel and the terror group Hamas.

ADVERTISEMENT
"I think our objective right now is to reach an immediate cease-fire,” Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative to the U.S., said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“I think Hamas has been practical in its political, you know, positions in recent years,” he added. “I don’t think Hamas is seeking a confrontation with Israel.”

His comments come as Israel readies a possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, home to 1.7 million people. Israeli military forces have carried out a nearly week-long rocket attack against alleged Hamas targets in the region and have urged residents to evacuate their homes “for their own safety.”

It is estimated that more than 130 people have been killed during the course of the campaign and nearly 1,000 wounded. Media reports indicate that Hamas has continued its rocket attacks against Israel, though there have been no casualties.

The United Nations on Saturday called for a immediate cease-fire and de-escalation of violence.

Areikat said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s “main objective right now is to stop the carnage in the Gaza Strip, to stop the bleeding in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian innocent civilians are women, are paying the price for this massive Israel” air strike campaign.

Areikat needs to "brush up on the rules of war," according to Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. "He doesn't know that when you take a home or you take a mosque, or you take any such a site, and you turn it into a site where there's terrorist activities, it actually becomes a legitimate target, and that's what Hamas has done."

He said that "makes it very difficult for our military to fight this war in a surgical way but we''ll do it and we'll continue to uphold the highest standards," he said.

"Hamas is deliberately targeting our civilians" while Israel has tried to avoid innocent casualties, Dermer said.

He said the violence would end "when we are able to achieve our military objective, which is to restore a sustained period of quiet for the people of Israel."

"The people of Israel deserve that, just as any nation deserves it, and hopefully, we can fight against the terrorists," Dermer said.

--This report was updated at 1:38 p.m.