Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Jerusalem - Israel’s prime minister has accused the international community of “deafening silence” in response to recent vows by the head of the Hamas militant group to fight until the Jewish state is destroyed. He appeared unmoved on Monday by growing global condemnation of his government’s plans to continue settling the West Bank.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s 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 voted in favour of Palestinian independence last month.

Speaking to foreign reporters, Netanyahu accused the international community of having double standards, condemning not-yet-built settlements in the West Bank while standing quiet during a historic visit to the Gaza Strip by Hamas’s exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal.

Netanyahu also directed his ire at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: “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?”

The UN resolution recognised a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Just eight countries sided with Israel in opposing the vote.

Although it does not end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, 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. – Sapa-AP