Ongoing Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip prompted many interviews on the Sunday shows, perhaps most prominently with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He went on "Fox News Sunday" to discuss the strikes and foreign policy in the Middle East more generally.
The conversation quickly turned to Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had made an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning, too, in which he expressed his intent to convince the international community that his country isn't interested in nuclear armament — just nuclear energy. “We don’t see any benefit to developing a nuclear weapon,” he said. “I will commit to everything and anything that would provide credible assurances to the international community that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons.”
Fox News host Brit Hume played this clip for Netanyahu. His response?
"It's a joke," he said. "Of course, they're developing nuclear weapons. They've invested, if not billions, you can start counting it in maybe in hundreds of billions of dollars — for what, for creating medical isotopes for Iranian patients circling the Earth? What are they developing ICBMs for if not for nuclear warheads? What are they developing these — building these enormous underground nuclear facilities if not for nuclear weapons?"
He went on, "So, this is a sham. I mean, I don't think anybody could take this seriously."
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Vienna discussing Iran's nuclear enrichment program with European and Iranian officials. They had hoped to broker a deal by the end of next week. “It is vital to make certain that Iran is not going to develop nuclear weapons, that their program is peaceful," Kerry told reporters. "That’s what we are here trying to achieve."
Regarding the Gaza airstrikes, Netanyahu said, "Our mission is to restore a sustainable quiet, a sustainable security to our people by seriously degrading Hamas and other terrorist groups' capabilities in Gaza. I think we're proceeding, and we'll continue until that goal is achieved.
He added later, "I think the important thing to understand is that we can't enable our population to be under continuous rocket fire. I mean, I just want your viewers to imagine the United States being bombarded not in one city or two cities, but in every city between New York and Colorado. Maybe 20 percent of the United States would be exempt from this; 80 percent of your citizens would have to be in bomb shelters or ready to go into bomb shelters within a minute to a minute and a half max."
"No country can accept that, we can't accept it, and we'll take the necessary actions to stop it."
Former U.S. Mideast envoy Martin Indyk discussed the hope for a cease-fire among many in the United States.
"I think President Obama and Secretary Kerry want very much a cease-fire and are willing to do what they can to achieve that," he said, "but until Hamas decides that it's going to call off the rocket fire, it's hard to see how this comes to an end."
On CNN, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "The restraint of the Israelis, in my view, is admirable."
“Because there haven’t been more Israelis casualties isn’t because Hamas, a terrorist organization, hasn’t tried,” he said. “They are indiscriminately targeting civilians, while the Israelis are going so far as warning the people in Gaza on the pending strikes. There’s a dramatic difference.”
Israeli forces instructed Gaza residents to leave before the strikes, but 166 civilians have died, and at least 1,000 people are injured. Israel says the airstrikes are a response to rockets fired by Hamas. Palestinian militants have fired about 800 rockets at Israel since Tuesday. Not since 2012 has the Israeli military waged such an extensive offensive against rockets launched from Gaza.
Netanyahu also went on CBS's "Face the Nation," where he said, "We're sorry for any accidental civilian deaths, but it's the Hamas that bears complete responsibility for such civilian causalities."
Palestinian Ambassador to the United States, Maen Rashid Areikat, also went on "Face the Nation." "Prime Minister Netanyahu forgets the fact that Gaza is still under military occupation," he said. "He forgets the fact that the Palestinian people are still under his military occupation, and. therefore, he cannot compare the situation there to any situation around the world. I think the root cause of all the violence that we have witnessed over the last 48 years since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in 1967, is due to the continued Israeli military occupation."
He added, "Our objective right now is to reach an immediate cease-fire, return to the 2012 understandings between Hamas and Israel. You have to also remember, so far Israel has carried out 1,300 airstrikes against the Gaza Strip. That's more than 1,000 tons of explosives on the more densely populated area on the face of the Earth."
Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, also commented on the Gaza airstrikes. He said, “The United States and the members of the Security Council have a moral and legal responsibility to put an end to this." When asked whether he would denounce the Palestinians launching rockets into Israel, he said he would “not condemn people who are defending themselves.”