Benjamin Netanyahu ... questioned lack of response to Khaled Meshal's hardline words in Gaza. Photo: Getty Images
JERUSALEM: Israel's prime minister has accused other countries of "deafening silence" in response to recent vows by the head of Hamas to fight on until the Jewish state is destroyed.
Benjamin Netanyahu's tough words were likely to deepen the rift between Israel and some of its closest allies, particularly in Europe, that has emerged since the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favour of upgrading the status of Palestine last month. In a sign of the tense relations, European Union foreign ministers were gathered in Brussels to condemn new settlement construction that Mr Netanyahu authorised in response to the UN decision.
Where was the outrage? Where were the UN resolutions? Where was President Abbas?Benjamin Netanyahu
Speaking to foreign reporters, Mr Netanyahu accused the international community of double standards, condemning settlements that have not yet been built in the West Bank while standing quiet during a historic visit to the Gaza Strip by the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal.
Making his first trip to the Hamas-ruled territory at the weekend, Mr Meshal delivered a series of speeches to throngs of supporters vowing to wipe Israel off the map. The visit underscored the rising clout of Hamas and regional acceptance since its eight-day conflict with Israel last month.
Mr Netanyahu also directed his anger at the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, for not speaking out.
"This weekend the leader of Hamas, sitting next to the Hamas leader of Gaza, a man who praised Osama Bin Laden, this weekend openly called for the destruction of Israel. Where was the outrage? Where were the UN resolutions? Where was President Abbas?" Mr Netanyahu asked.
"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 said.
Mr Netanyahu has long complained that the world unfairly singles out Israel for criticism. In Monday's address, he accused the United Nations of passing an unbalanced resolution that supported Palestinian statehood but did not address Israeli security concerns.
The UN resolution recognised a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Just eight countries sided with Israel in opposing the vote.
The resolution gave an international endorsement to the Palestinian position on the borders between Israel and a future Palestine. It also amounted to a broad condemnation of Israeli settlements in the two areas. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005.
Mr Netanyahu, who rejects a return to Israel's 1967 lines, responded to the UN resolution with plans to build thousands of new homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The most contentious is to develop a corridor linking east Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, one of the largest Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
The Palestinians say building in this area, known as E1, would deal a death blow to any hopes for peace since it would separate the West Bank from east Jerusalem, their nominated capital, and drive a deep wedge between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank by creating a string of settlements jutting nearly halfway across the West Bank.