We make our own decisions, Netanyahu tells Cameron

Lord Cameron and Benjamin Netanyahu held talks during the Foreign Secretary's visit to Jerusalem on Wednesday
Lord Cameron and Benjamin Netanyahu during the Foreign Secretary's visit to Jerusalem on Wednesday - MAAYAN TOAF/ISRAEL GPO/ZUMA PRESS WIRE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Benjamin Netanyahu told Lord Cameron “we make our own decisions” after the Foreign Secretary pushed for de-escalation of Israel’s confrontation with Iran .

The Israeli prime minister said after talks in Jerusalem with Lord Cameron and Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, on Wednesday that he appreciated “all kinds of suggestions and advice” from both countries.

But he added: “We will make our own decisions, and the state of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself.”

World leaders, fearing a wider conflict in the Middle East, have spent four days urging Mr Netanyahu to show restraint in its retaliation against Iran for its drone and missile barrage against Israel on Saturday .

The Foreign Office said Lord Cameron pushed for “de-escalation” during his talks with Mr Netanyahu.

But after the meeting, the Foreign Secretary said that Israel had made a decision to respond to the Iranian drone and ballistic missile attack. It was the starkest warning yet that the regional conflict will probably escalate further.

He said: “It’s clear the Israelis are making a decision to act. We hope they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible.”

Iran launched more than 300 missiles and drones at Israel on Saturday, the first time Tehran has directly attacked its foe after decades of confrontation by proxies.

Most missiles and drones were shot down – aided in part by allies including the United States and Britain – and no deaths were recorded.

Nonetheless, Israel has vowed a “response” to the attack, and Daniel Hagari, its military spokesman, has stressed that Iran would not get off “scot-free”.

Lord Cameron said: “We’re very anxious to avoid escalation and to say to our friends in Israel: It’s time to think with head as well as heart, and in many ways this is a double defeat for Iran.

“Not only was their attack an almost total failure, but also the rest of the world can now see what a malign influence they are in the region.”

Isaac Herzog, the Israeli president, with Lord Cameron and Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, in Jerusalem
Isaac Herzog, the Israeli president, thanked Lord Cameron, also seen here with Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, for his visit - Twitter

Iran said it launched the attacks in response to a presumed Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1, which killed two generals and several other Iranian officers.

On Wednesday, Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president, said the slightest aggression by Israel on Iran’s soil would trigger a “fierce and severe response”.

Speaking during a military parade,  Mr Raisi said that Saturday’s attack was a limited one, and that if Iran had wanted to carry out a bigger attack, “nothing would remain from the Zionist regime”.

Mr Raisi also praised the assault, which Tehran called Operation Honest Promise, saying it “brought down the glory of the Zionist regime” and “showed that our armed forces are ready”.

Lord Cameron and Ms Baerbock did not veto an Israeli response to Iran’s attack during their talks, but expressed a desire not to escalate the situation, an Israeli official confirmed to The Telegraph.

Israel Katz, the Israeli foreign minister, is understood to have told Lord Cameron that now was the time to create a coalition with moderate countries in the region to further isolate Iran.

The Israeli war cabinet, chaired by Benjamin Netanyahu, met on Sunday after the attack by Iran
The Israeli war cabinet, chaired by Benjamin Netanyahu, met on Sunday after the attack by Iran - ISRAELI GOVERNMENT PRESS OFFICE/ANADOLU VIA GETTY IMAGES

Lord Cameron said Britain wanted to see co-ordinated sanctions against Iran by the G7, which is meeting this week in Italy, adding: “They need to be given a clear, unequivocal message by the G7.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the US said it would impose new sanctions targeting Iran’s missile and drone programme, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian defence ministry.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, also said Brussels was working on expanding sanctions.

Isaac Herzog, the Israeli president, thanked Lord Cameron for his visit, saying: “I appreciate our warm discussion together this morning in Jerusalem.” He added that Israel was “unequivocal” in its commitment to defending its people.

Israel announced on Wednesday that eight trucks containing flour entered the Gaza Strip from Ashdod Port, marking another step in the direction of increasing aid to the besieged enclave.

The delivery of aid was coordinated between the IDF, The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the World Food Programme (WFP). The trucks underwent a thorough security inspection at the Ashdod Port after which they were admitted into the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom Crossing. The trucks were escorted by IDF soldiers.

Israel has significantly increased aid to Gaza since Joe Biden, the US President, demanded that Israel open another border crossing in northern Gaza, following the killing of seven aid workers, among them three Britons.

Some 376 trucks with humanitarian aid were transferred to Gaza on Tuesday, almost double the amount that entered before Biden pressured Israel to increase aid earlier this month.