Europe rushes to condemn any settlement activity in the West Bank, but regards with equanimity the prospect of the Jewish state’s destruction, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman charged on Tuesday, comparing European UN delegates to members of Fatah, and reiterating his long-standing view that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not a figure with whom Israel can negotiate.
Liberman also said that the next rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza would prompt a far more dramatic Israeli response than last month’s eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense. Israel would not be able to suffice with what he called surgical strikes, but would have to use ground forces and retake all of Gaza, from which Israel withdrew completely in 2005. “The next missile attack will obligate us to send in ground forces and, unlike with Pillar of Defense, to take complete control of Gaza. And the world should not urge Israel to exercise restraint.”
Speaking at a Hanukkah menorah-lighting ceremony in Tel Aviv, Liberman slammed the international community for applauding Abbas’s speech last month to the United Nations General Assembly during a deliberation of the PA’s successful bid to upgrade its status in the international body to “nonmember state.”
“They talk about Abu Mazen as a partner for peace,” he said, referring to Abbas by his Arabic kunya, “but I saw on the stage [at the UN] a sizable delegation of Fatah people, and they erupted in thunderous applause when he called for the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Liberman also directed critical remarks at the European Union, which on Monday issued a scathing condemnation of an Israeli announcement of plans to build 3,000 new units in the West Bank, some of them in the highly contentious E1 corridor between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, in response to the Palestinians’ UN gambit.
“Many European Union foreign ministers simply ignore reality,” the foreign minister said. “As far as they’re concerned, the destruction of Israel is a matter of course.”
Echoing sentiments expressed on Monday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Liberman claimed that some of the EU foreign ministers had refused to censure Hamas — the leader of the Islamist group on Saturday vowed never to give up “any inch of Palestine” — alongside its condemnation of Israel.
“I don’t want to name names and cite exact quotes, but a significant number of foreign ministers did not want to mention Hamas in their statement and did not want to insert [in the statement] a sentence calling for the cessation of incitement, when the incitement in question was a direct call for our destruction,” Liberman said.
On Monday, Netanyahu slammed the international community and Abbas for failing to speak out against Mashaal’s explicit calls for Israel’s destruction.
Speaking at a Hanukkah ceremony with the foreign press, Netanyahu contrasted Europe’s condemnations of Israel for approving construction plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, with its lack of response to the Hamas political leader’s weekend speech in Gaza, in which he said that “Jihad and armed resistance is the only way.”
Soon after Netanyahu spoke, the EU did issue a statement saying that it found “inflammatory statements by Hamas leaders that deny Israel’s right to exist unacceptable. The European Union will never cease its efforts to combat terrorism which seeks to undermine the openness and tolerance of societies through indiscriminate acts of violence against civilians.”