PM Netanyahu in the Knesset
PM Netanyahu in the KnessetNoam Moskowitz-Knesset channel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech in the Knesset this evening (Monday) in which he rejected the claims that he has not allowed the negotiating team sufficient freedom in the talks for a deal for the release of hostages.

"Regarding the despicable lie that I am not giving the negotiating team the mandate it requests, know that I have granted all five requests to expand the team's mandate," Netanyahu said.

"This morning I again met with the families of the hostages. With the close families of our dear female soldiers. A few days ago we watched a shocking video documenting the kidnapping of our dear female soldiers. My heart was torn by the personal story of all the hostages. They are always in our hearts and always at the forefront of our minds. And when I met with them and looked In their eyes, I promised them that I would not let up in the effort to return everyone home, to their lives and places," said the Prime Minister.

"The repeated false briefings that we are the obstacle are a false spin that not only hurts the families but also pushes off their release and harms the negotiations. Instead of the pressure being directed towards Sinwar, it is directed towards the Israeli government, which is repeatedly asked to make more concessions and more concessions. So why would Sinwar feel pressured? He is happy that the work is done for him. The pressure should be demonstrated in the opposite direction. We are fighting in the north of the strip, ad in Rafah," he said.

During the prime minister's speech, a group of families of hostages waved a huge sign in the stands that read 'look them in the eyes.'

Netanyahu emphasized that Israel will not stop the war until the return of the hostages and the defeat of Hamas. "I am not ready to end the war before achieving of all its goals. If we surrender - the massacre of the seventh of October will be repeated as Hamas promises."

"I will not raise the flag of surrender," he declared.

"I hear the voices that deny the need to achieve the victory. Victory was and remains our primary goal. I hear here and in the studios the voices of despondency that say there is no possibility of victory? A bunch of former generals who become commentators in the present, all kinds of politicians who were rejected by the public. If you want despondency - listen to those studios. If you want strength - listen to the soldiers," he noted.

Regarding the airstrike in Rafah in which it was claimed 30 people were killed and for which Israel has received international criticism, he said that "despite our best efforts not to harm non-involved people, a mishap occurred yesterday in Rafah and we are investigating it. For us, any non-involved person who is injured is a tragedy - for Hamas, it is a strategy."

He attacked the head of the opposition. "Lapid and his friends here in the booth and in the hall do not imagine that it is possible to make decisions resistant to outside pressures. You do not believe that in existential matters we make decisions that require leadership. And now you tell me to abandon leadership and surrender. Abandon leadership and despair. I will not despair, I will not surrender. I stand for our interests out of national responsibility. There is no substitute for absolute victory. There is a struggle between our desire to exist and our enemy's desire to destroy us."