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Netanyahu says ‘we will make our decisions ourselves’ as UK pushes for restraint

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron visited Israel on Wednesday, having called on Mr Netanyahu to take the “smart” but “tough” option of not escalating tensions in response to the drone and missile barrage launched by Tehran.

Mr Sunak had also directly lobbied Mr Netanyahu to show restraint, but the Israeli prime minister indicated he would not be swayed by foreign leaders.

Mr Netanyahu said he met both Lord Cameron and Germany’s Annalena Baerbock and thanked them for their country’s support for Israel.

But he told his Cabinet that despite “all sorts of suggestions and advice” from Israel’s allies “I want to be clear: we will make our decisions ourselves”.

“The state of Israel will do whatever is necessary to defend itself,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Lord Cameron said Israel is “making the decision to act” in response to Saturday’s attack by Iran, which was largely thwarted by Israel and allies including the UK and US.

Speaking to broadcasters in Jerusalem, he said: “It is right to have made our views clear about what should happen next, but it is clear the Israelis are making the decision to act.

“We hope they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible and in a way that, as I said yesterday, is smart as well as tough.”

Downing Street echoed the Foreign Secretary’s comments, urging Israel to avoid “significant escalation”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “Israel has successfully repelled the Iranian attack and Iran is even more isolated on the world stage.

“We want to avoid significant further escalation and bloodshed which would only be deeply destabilising for the region and risk more loss of life.”

The Foreign Secretary met senior Israeli figures, including Mr Netanayahu and Israeli president Isaac Herzog, and was also expected to visit the West Bank and Palestinian Authority prime minister Mohammad Mustafa before heading to a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Italy.

Lord Cameron said he hoped the G7 meeting would result in further “co-ordinated sanctions” against Iran, saying Tehran needed to be sent “a clear and unequivocal message”.

The UK has already sanctioned several Iranians along with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

But the Government has so far resisted calls from MPs to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, with ministers saying such a move could jeopardise Britain’s ability to engage with Tehran diplomatically.

Former prime minister Liz Truss suggested the UK Government should be more pro-Israeli.

Ms Truss, who also served as foreign secretary, told ITV’s Peston: “There definitely is a tendency to not support Israel as much as I would like in the Foreign Office.”

Asked whether that applied to Lord Cameron, she said: “I am concerned when we are not wholly supportive of Israel and what Israel needs to do to take on the appalling terrorist threat and to take on the forces in the Middle East that are determined to see the end of Israel.”

The UK joined allies in defending Israel when Iran launched about 350 drones and missiles at Israel on Saturday, with British jets shooting down a number of drones.

The onslaught followed Israel’s targeting of an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month.



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