Israeli soldiers should respond with lethal force to attempts by Palestinian policemen to harm them, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday.
Liberman also compared international silence on threats from Gazan terror group Hamas to Europe’s inaction before and during the Holocaust.
His comments were the harshest response thus far to a number of incidents in the West Bank last week that saw IDF troops forced to retreat from Palestinian protesters. In Hebron on Thursday, troops were caught in a melee with Palestinian police and some 250 other protesters, with one soldier suffering injuries after being punched in the face by a member of the Palestinian security forces.
“It is unacceptable that Palestinian policemen slap and punch soldiers and remain alive,” Liberman told Israel Radio. “The current IDF policy doesn’t produce calm, on the contrary, it just fans the flames. When a soldier is surrounded by an angry mob and being beaten Palestinian policemen, it is a provocation. The government and the IDF’s top brass must support the soldiers.”
The foreign minister also lashed out at the European Union for condemning Israel over plans to expand Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line, contrasted by its silence in light of Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal’s calls to destroy Israel.
Liberman paralleled Europe’s failure to condemn Mashaal for his statements to European silence in the face of the Nazis’ campaign to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust. He added that the international community should be distancing itself from PA President Mahmoud Abbas over his unity overtures with Hamas.
“Europe is ignoring calls to destroy Israel, just as they knew what was happening to the Jews in the 1940s and didn’t exactly do anything about it,” Liberman said.
The foreign minister added that by pandering to terrorists, Europe was shooting itself in the foot. “Whoever sacrifices the Jews and Israel today, must understand that they’re next,” he said.
Liberman’s statements echoed those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who slammed the international community on Monday for its “deafening silence,” following Mashaal’s speech in Gaza, in which the Hamas leader said the Palestinians would “not give up an inch of Palestine,” and that “Jihad and armed resistance are the only way.”
“This weekend, the leaders of Hamas openly called for the destruction of Israel. Where was the outrage? Where were the UN resolutions? Where was President Abbas?” Netanyahu asked during a Hanukkah reception for the foreign press. “Why weren’t Palestinian diplomats summoned in European and other capitals to explain why the PA president not only refused to condemn this, but actually declared his intention to unite with Hamas?”
Liberman’s sharp words generated immediate responses from Israel’s left-wing parties. Labor MK Isaac Herzog accused the government of strengthening Hamas and weakening Abbas, thus wrecking Israel’s best chance for peace.
Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-on called Liberman’s Holocaust comparison “despicable,” and said that Netanyahu and Liberman were leading Israel deeper and deeper into International isolation.
Hatnua MK Yoel Hasson also slammed Liberman’s comments, which he called “scandalous.”
“It’s a dangerous populist move intended to prop up the far right at the expense of Israel’s good and important ties with its friends,” he said in a statement.