Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was not ready to return to the negotiating table with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas unless he distances himself from Hamas militants, in a round of post-war interviews on Israeli TV channels.
Netanyahu has regularly condemned the formal Abbas-Hamas relationship.
Netanyahu's comment on Abbas came amid continuing displeasure among leading Israeli Cabinet ministers on the conduct of the recently concluded war, with many saying he did not go far enough to neutralize Hamas's fighting ability.
Netanyahu and Abbas in September 2010 (Photo: Getty Images)
Netanyahu rejected that criticism, but in an apparent nod to the pressure from his detractors said that Abbas will have to prove himself if he wants to be a partner in a diplomatic process.
"He has to choose," Netanyahu told Channel Two. "It's either yes to Hamas or no to Hamas."
Asked how Israel intends to meet the new challenge in the Golan area, Benjamin Netanyahu told Channel 10 television in an interview recorded on Friday and aired on Saturday Israel was prepared to face the threats.
"Sea port, airport, wages, Shalit prisoners – it all crumbled," he said. "I took the decision with the defense minister and chief of staff, there were external rumblings, but in the end it played out as it should. The IDF fought a fantastic campaign against Hamas, after we destroyed hundreds of their positions they gathered in the towers. We had to send troops into the tunnels, but the moment that was dealt with, I did not want (further) deaths or abductions of IDF troops."
The prime minister also dismissed criticism of his handling of the fighting.
"I was in the south, I met with dozens of local council leaders who expressed support for and faith in how I managed the conflict," he said. Hamas, he said, "are isolated and unable to rearm, but we will not stand for a drizzle (of rockets)."
"We have already taken steps. We did not wait; we built and renovated the security fence. Al Nusra has been present there for about the past five months. We are prepared for various possibilities," he said.
He added that the current situation was a manifestation of the volatility of the region.
"We live in a tough Middle East, in a tough area, and compared with other countries, we are taking care of our security and economy better than everyone. But we face challenges on a number of fronts," he said.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.