JERUSALEM — Last month’s deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip may be over, but the war of words continues.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the Islamic militant group Hamas, accusing its leader of calling for Israel's destruction at a mass rally Saturday in Gaza.
Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Israel's Palestinian enemies have proven once again that they are not interested in compromise.
He was referring to comments by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who returned to Gaza on Friday after 45 years of exile. At a rally marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, Meshaal vowed Hamas would fight until all of Palestine, including the territory of the State of Israel, is liberated from the Jews.
He reiterated this position at speech Sunday in Gaza. There will be “no concessions on a single inch of Palestine,” he declared. He said armed struggle would continue until the liberation of Jerusalem.
Last month, Israel and Hamas fought a deadly border conflict. Israel pounded Gaza with air strikes and Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities and towns.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said Hamas is harming international efforts to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
He said Israel wants peace, but that is impossible with enemies like Hamas who seek to destroy it.
Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2006, and a year later Hamas seized control of the territory, ousting the rival and more moderate Palestinian Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. Today, Abbas rules the West Bank and seeks a negotiated peace with Israel based on a two-state solution.
But Netanyahu is skeptical. He said Gaza became a terror base for Hamas after the Israeli pullout, and he promised that Israel would not make the same mistake in the West Bank.