‘‘We methodically hurt the ones who do want peace. We help raise the radical elements instead. The result of this policy could be the collapse of the Palestinian Authority government very rapidly, which would create the worst intifada we've seen thus far. We are not far from it,’’ Olmert warned.
Olmert’s government conducted a year of peace talks with Abbas in 2008 that resulted in closing many gaps but no final accord.
Netanyahu showed no signs of bending. Speaking to his Cabinet, Netanyahu said the celebrations in Gaza over the weekend exposed ‘‘the true face of our enemies.’’
‘‘They have no intention of compromising with us. They want to destroy our country, but they will obviously fail,’’ he said.
He also said it was ‘‘interesting’’ that Abbas ‘‘has issued no condemnation’’ of the Hamas comments. ‘‘To my regret, he strives for unity with the same Hamas that is supported by Iran.’’
Netanyahu’s tough approach has gone over well with the Israeli public. With elections scheduled for Jan. 22, opinion polls forecast Netanyahu winning re-election as leader of a coalition dominated by hard-line nationalist and religious parties.
The Palestinians have launched two uprisings against Israeli occupation. The first erupted exactly 25 years ago, on Dec. 9, 1987, and lasted nearly six years. The second, deadlier uprising broke out in late 2000 and stretched for about five years. More than 3,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis died in the fighting.
Palestinian officials in the West Bank have signaled they have no desire to return to the days of the uprising, when armed militant gangs controlled Palestinian cities, Israeli military raids were common and Israeli troops strictly controlled movement throughout the West Bank.
‘‘We are not ready for war. The only way forward is peace,’’ Abbas told Arab leaders at a gathering in Qatar on Sunday.
Majed Swailim, a Palestinian political scientist, said Palestinian disappointment in failed peace efforts could lead to anti-Israel street protests in the West Bank in the coming months. But he did not expect an open armed rebellion.
‘‘People here don’t want to repeat the violent intifada because they know that Israel can paralyze life in the entire West Bank,’’ he said.
Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, and Lauren E. Bohn in Tel Aviv contributed reporting.