Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
commented Sunday on the speech given by Hamas Politburo
Chief Khaled Mashaal in Gaza Saturday, saying that "Over the last 24 hours we have been exposed, again, to Hamas' true colors."
spoke at Hamas' 25th anniversary celebrations in Gaza City,
and declared that the Islamist movement would never recognize Israel
and will "fight to free Palestine from the Zionist occupier."
Hamas, Netanyahu told the Cabinet, "Has no intention of ever reaching a compromise with us. They want to destroy Israel. The State of Israel will overcome this enemy, but it was interesting to see how Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) didn't condemn the statements calling for Israel's destruction – just like he never condemns rocket fire.
"Unfortunately he is striving for unity with Hamas, which as we know is backed by Iran."
The Israeli government, he added, "Has no illusions. We want true peace with our neighbors but we are not oblivious to reality. We won't make another mistake like a unilateral withdrawal
– the kind that has landed Hamas in power in Gaza.
"I'm always astounded by other people's illusions that say that they are willing to continue this process and call it 'peace.' Giving these people any control of Judea and Samaria will have only one result – Gaza on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Hadera and Kfar Saba.
"This is why we have to stand up to international pressure,
and that's what the Israeli leadership should be – devoid of illusions and protective of Israel's interests."
Know thy enemy
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz added:
"Mashaal's visit to Gaza reminds us exactly who we're dealing with. Some people are trying to foster a public illusion – that if we compromise just a little bit more than peace is right around the corner.
"Israel has a responsible leadership and we know what and who is in front of us. Mashaal declares he wants to destroy Israel and Abbas can't even utter the words 'Jewish state,'" he said. "The fact that Mashaal spoke of victory in Gaza doesn’t change the fact that Hamas was dealt a serious blow."
Speaking further of Operation Pillar of Defense,
Steinitz said that "The government did what needed to be done and deterrence has been restored. And if in the future it falters again, then we'll have to strike with greater force.
"Looking at the situation right now – not one single rocket has been fired from Gaza since (the ceasefire) that means that we achieved our operational goals."
President Shimon Peres also
commented on the Hamas chief's visit to Gaza, but unlike Netanyahu, who criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas'
lack of censure over Mashaal's aggressive words, he chose to stress that the PA was still Israel's peace partner.
"Khaled Mashaal exposed Hamas for what it is – a terror group that advocates bloodshed, that fosters poverty, hunger and misery among the Palestinian people.
"On the other side of Hamas there is Abu Mazen, who is a peace partner. He opposes terror and recognizes Israel's right to exist.
"This is not just a time of elections
it is also a time of choices. We have to choose between Gaza and the West Bank, between Abbas and Mashaal. It's a choice and it has to be made," he said.