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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused the international community of “deafening silence” in response to recent vows by Hamas to fight on until the Jewish state is destroyed, and appeared unmoved by the gathering storm of global condemnation of his government’s plans to continue construction in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim.
Netanyahu’s tough words came after the European Union warned Israel of unspecified consequences Monday if it goes through with its construction plans. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers said they were “deeply dismayed” by those plans.
“The E1 plan, if implemented, would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and of Jerusalem as the capital of two states,” said the ministers said in a joint statement. “It could also entail forced transfer of civilian populations.”
After the EU issued its condemnation, Netanyahu spoke to foreign reporters and accused the international community of having double standards, condemning not-yet-built communities while standing quiet during a historic visit to the Gaza Strip by Hamas’s exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal.
“We are not giving up any inch of Palestine,” Mashaal told a Gaza crowd during his visit. “It will remain Islamic and Arab for us and nobody else. Jihad and armed resistance is the only way. We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy.”
The EU foreign ministers’ conclusions from the meeting that were published on Monday had in fact condemned Hamas. “The European Union will never stop opposing those who embrace and promote violence as a way to achieve political goals. The EU finds inflammatory statements by Hamas leaders that deny Israel’s right to exist unacceptable,” the EU statement read.
However, the condemnation of Hamas appeared at clause No. 9 of 10 points published by the EU and came after a succession of condemnations of Israel for E1 construction, which itself was the reason the foreign ministers had convened. The EU’s Hamas mention also stopped short of calling on the organization to take any action or change its ways.
On Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also addressed the EU’s condemnation of Israel, telling Israel Radio that Europe was “once again, ignoring calls to destroy Israel.”
“Hamas leaders are openly declaring that their objective is to destroy Israel, and that they refuse to recognize Israel,” Lieberman said. “[Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas supports this view, and Europe is silent.”
Netanyahu also directed his ire at Abbas for not speaking out against Hamas.
“This weekend the leader of Hamas, sitting next to the Hamas leader of Gaza, a man who praised Osama bin Laden, openly called for the destruction of Israel. Where was the outrage? Where were the UN resolutions? Where was [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas?” Netanyahu said.
“Why weren’t Palestinian diplomats summoned to 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. There was nothing, there was silence and it was deafening silence,” he added.
Accusing the EU of “slapping Israel in the face” in condemning its consrtruction policy, Lieberman said “those who sacrifice the Jews and Israel today need to realize that they will be next.”
Also on Monday, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Europe’s political view of the Mideast had changed profoundly since Israel announced plans to build 3,000 new homes in E1.
Bildt, speaking as ministers gathered for Monday’s EU meeting in Brussels, said the Israeli plans had caused “extreme concern” in Europe.
“What the Israelis did on E1 has shifted opinions in Europe,” Bildt said. “I don’t think the Israelis are aware of this.”