Netanyahu confronted by CBS anchor live on air for attacking Gaza ‘to stay in power’

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<p>Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu interviewed on CBS on Wednesday </p> (CBS)

Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu interviewed on CBS on Wednesday

(CBS)

Benjamin Netanyahu called accusations that recent airstrikes against Palestinians were a bid to stay in power, as “preposterous”.

The Israel prime minister was confronted with the fact that airstrikes against Palestinians were in the face of four failed attempts to form a government and a corruption trial, in an interview by CBS anchor John Dickerson on Sunday.

"You are under investigation for bribery, fraud, breach of trust," the anchor told Mr Netanyahu. "You've also had some difficultly — four failed attempts to put together a government in the last 23 months.”

“This leads to the criticism that your current actions are basically an effort to stay in power,” Mr Dickerson continued, “and what’s your response to that?”

Mr Netanyahu told the CBS anchor: “I think anybody who knows me knows that I've never, ever subordinated security concerns, the life of our soldiers, the life of our citizens for political interests."

“I will do what I have to do to protect the lives of Israeli citizens and to restore peace,” the prime minister added, “my goal [is] to restore peace, to ensure tranquillity and reconciliation for all”.

Criticism, the prime minister told Mr Dickerson, “persists because I've been reelected five times”.

Mr Netanyahu, who also faces charges of corruption and bribery, recently failed to form a governing coalition after 23 months of talks and four elections.

If no one able is able to form a coalition, Israel will face a fifth election in three years.

A fortnight of conflict between Israel and Hamas, a terrorist group in control of Gaza, has so far killed 230 Palestinians, including more than 100 women and children, according to figures from the territory’s health ministry.

In Israel 12 people, including two children, have been killed.

The fighting begun amid rising tensions in occupied East Jerusalem, with Hamas firing into Israel following a warning to withdraw from a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews.

Israel and Mr Netanyahu allege that airstrikes are targetting Hamas and terrorist infrastructure, although Palestinians and news organisation offices are among the casualties of the fighting.

Following Mr Netanyahu’s interview with CBS, US president Joe Biden "conveyed to the [Israel] prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire" in a phone call on Wednesday.

But the US refused to back another bid for a UN resolution to end the fighting brought by France, also on Wednesday, because it said it could "undermine efforts to de-escalate".

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A brief history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict

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