Netanyahu Warns of Hamas Rise in W. Bank


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world leaders to keep up pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to cooperate with the terrorist group Hamas, following a unity deal between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas last week.

At the cabinet's weekly meeting Sunday, Netanyahu cautioned, "Over the weekend Hamas leaders again declared their intention to destroy the State of Israel."

Netanyahu also dismissed the idea promoted in western capitals that Hamas would moderate after joining with the Palestinian authority. "Those who thought that the Palestinian unity betweeen Hamas and Fatah would moderate Hamas were mistaken. Instead of the Palestinian Authority taking control of Gaza, there are increasing signs that the exact opposite is taking place -- that Hamas is increasing its control inside the P.A. in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]," Netanyahu said.

In recent days, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has repeated that his group is unwilling either to give up its control of the Gaza Strip or to disarm. He also threatened to kidnap more Israeli soldiers.

The prime minister has said he was "deeply troubled" by the U.S. decision to maintain relations with the Palestinian unity government, despite the presence of Hamas, defined as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department for decades.

Netanyahu also praised Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis for refusing to label east Jerusalem as "occupied territory" under Israeli sovereignty. Brandis said Thursday his government would not use such "judgmental language" to describe areas under negotiation.

Netanyahu remarked, "To say this sharply and with such clarity, and I would say, courage, is refreshing given the chorus of hypocrisy and ignorance, ignorance not only of ancient history, but of recent and current history."

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