Hamas's vow to vanquish Israel after claiming "victory" in last month's Gaza conflict vindicates Israel's reluctance to relinquish more land to the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
The Israeli leader has faced fierce foreign criticism this week for announcing a wave of Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem following a de-facto recognition by the U.N. General Assembly of a Palestinian state.
But Netanyahu said Israel would never withdraw unilaterally from the West Bank as it had done from Gaza in 2005, arguing that this would risk creating another territory from which Palestinians could launch rockets at Israeli cities.
"I am always aghast at the delusions of others who are prepared to pursue this process and call it peace," he said.
"We want a true peace with our neighbors, but we will not close our eyes nor bury our heads in the sand," he said, adding that this required Israel to "stand up to international pressure".
Although Hamas refuses to recognize Israel or renounce violence, the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he is ready to make peace on the basis of the lines that existed before the 1967 war, when Israel seized the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
.........."What is interesting is that Abu Mazen (Abbas), of all people, did not condemn the (Hamas) words calling for Israel's destruction, just as previously he did not condemn the rockets fired at Israel (from Gaza)," Netanyahu said.
"And to my regret he is working for unity with this same Hamas, which is supported by Iran."'