EU's Jewish policy 'like 1930s': Israel's Lieberman
(JERUSALEM) - Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticised Europe on Tuesday, saying its treatment of the Jewish state was comparable to policies during the Holocaust.
Lieberman said Europe had turned a blind eye to a speech by Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal this week, in which he said the Palestinians would not "cede an inch" of historic Palestine, which covers modern Israel.
"Once again, Europe has ignored calls for Israel's destruction," Lieberman told Israeli public radio.
"We've already seen this at the end of the 1930s and at the beginning of the 1940s when Europe knew what what was happening in the concentration camps and didn't act.
"Europe has slapped itself in the face," he added.
"When Jews are sacrificed, you have to ask yourself who will be next. In Toulouse, the terrorist who killed Jewish children also killed French soldiers," said Lieberman.
He was referring to Mohamed Merah, who killed three Jewish schoolchildren and a teacher in the French city of Toulouse in March, days after killing three French troops.
"Terrorism attacks Jews but it targets all countries and Western values. Israel is just an hors d'oeuvre," he added.
Lieberman also criticised Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for failing to publicly criticise Meshaal's speech and pursuing reconciliation with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement which runs the Gaza Strip.
"Hamas calls for Israel's destruction and refused to recognise Israel and Abu Mazen (Abbas) supports this position while Europe stays quiet," he said.
Later in the day, Lieberman said Israel would withhold taxes and customs duties it collects for the Palestinians for four months to pay back debts.
"We paid up to this point advances for salaries of Palestinian Authority employees of approximately 700 million shekels ($184 million, 142 million euros)," he told members of his Yisrael Beitenu party on Tuesday night.
"Another 900 million (shekels; $237 million dollars, 182 million euros) we paid and absorbed, expenses Palestinians didn't pay for electricity and water. A total of 1.6 billion shekels in all," he said.
"Therefore, what we are doing for four months now is we will take back our money, it's not their money," he said. "They can forget about receiving even one penny for four months. We will return our money, and then consider how to proceed."
Israel normally transfers 460 million shekels ($120 million, 92.7 million euros) per month before deductions. Following the Palestinians' successful bid for upgraded UN status, Israel had halted December's transfer, with a finance ministry spokeswoman saying the decision applied only to that month.
The finance ministry and prime minister's office, which ultimately decide on such punitive measures, were not immediately available for comment on Lieberman's statement, which comes ahead of a January 22 general election.