Pelosi says she ‘had it with Netanyahu years ago’ for not trying to make peace with Palestinians

Former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear that her patience with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ran thin a long time ago.

“The person I admire the most there is President [Isaac] Herzog – I had it with Netanyahu years ago, I mean, really, not trying to make peace or anything all along,” she told Sky News.

Calling the 7 October attack by Hamas on Israel, which killed more than 1,200 people, “a horrible thing,” she went on to say that Israel has a “right to defend itself and prepare to make sure that doesn't happen again”.

“I'm very sad about the collateral damage in Gaza. So many people killed so many innocent people, children and families. They weren't combatants or anything, but they were collateral damage,” she added, noting that that damage “will be a losing message ... for [Israel’s] reputation”.

Ms Pelosi defended the Biden administration, which has received widespread criticism – mostly from other Democrats – for not pushing back harder against Israel and continuing to supply military aid.

“I think our administration, from what I can see, has been very clear in their message to Israel in terms of respecting the lives of all of those people, also, to try to discourage them from what might come next in attack,” Ms Pelosi told Sky News. “But ... Israel is their own country, and they do what they do.”

More than 29,000 people have now been killed in Gaza following Israel’s response to the attack by Hamas, which has been designated as a terror group by the EU, US, and others.

“I saw President Herzog here, and I said, ‘How’s it going?’ And he said, ‘We just have a little more to do, then we will be there,’” the former speaker recalled. “So I was encouraged because he’s a decent person ... Let’s have confidence that this will pass soon. Again, I always say everything is an opportunity. And maybe it’ll be an opportunity for Israel to see this disfavour that many in the world had as to how they conducted themselves after October 7 and will strive maybe for a two-state solution.”

A two-state solution is highly unlikely to come while Mr Netanyahu is in charge. While paying lip service to the idea in public, Mr Netanyahu has long denigrated the notion in private. More recently, he has also started to do so in public, openly clashing with US President Joe Biden on the matter.

On Friday, he said that Israel would resist international pressure to create a Palestinian state after The Washington Post reported that the US was actively working on plans to establish a state for the Palestinians.

After a call with Mr Biden, Mr Netanyahu said in a statement that “Israel categorically rejects international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians”.

“Israel will continue to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state,” he added, arguing that a state would be a “huge reward” for the 7 October attack.

Mr Netanyahu argued that a Palestinian state could only be created following direct talks between the two sides – but no such negotiations have been held since 2014, Reuters noted.

Also on Friday, the Palestinian Ministry for Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Mr Netanyahu was using the idea of negotiations only for them to fail once more to lead to Palestinian statehood.

“The Palestinian state is not a gift or a favour from Netanyahu, but a right imposed by international law and legitimate international resolutions,” the ministry said in a statement.