- - Monday, December 10, 2012

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister on Monday accused the international community of “deafening silence” in response to recent vows by the head of the Hamas militant group to fight on until the Jewish state is destroyed, appearing unmoved by global condemnation of his government’s plans to continue settling the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough words were likely to deepen the rift between Israel and some of its closest allies, particularly in Europe, that has emerged since the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of Palestinian independence last month.

In a sign of the tense relations, European Union foreign ministers were gathered in Brussels to condemn new settlement construction that Mr. Netanyahu has authorized in response to the U.N. decision.

Speaking to foreign reporters, Mr. Netanyahu accused the international community of having double standards, condemning not-yet-built settlements in the West Bank while standing quiet during a historic visit to the Gaza Strip by Hamas‘ exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal.

Making his first trip to the Hamas-ruled territory over the weekend, Mr. Mashaal delivered a series of speeches to throngs of supporters vowing to wipe Israel off the map. The visit underscored Hamas‘ rising clout and regional acceptance since its eight-day conflict with Israel last month.

Mr. Netanyahu also directed his ire at Hamas‘ rival, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, for not speaking out.

PAKISTAN

U.S. drone strike kills al Qaeda commander

DERA ISMAIL KHAN — A U.S. drone strike has killed an al Qaeda commander in Pakistan’s northwest, the second member of the Islamic militant network killed in the area in less than a week, Pakistani intelligence officials and a Taliban militant said Monday.

Mohammad Ahmed al-Mansoor died Sunday when drone-launched missiles hit a house in Tabbi village in the North Waziristan tribal area, the main sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the country, the officials and militant said.

Al-Mansoor was a close aide to senior al Qaeda leader Sheik Khalid bin Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan, who was killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan on Thursday, said the officials. Al-Hussainan also was known as Abu Zaid al-Kuwaiti.

ITALY

Monti seeks to calm market concerns

ROME — Seeking to calm financial markets, Prime Minister Mario Monti said Monday that he will lead Italy until the next government takes power, insisting there will be “no decision-making vacuum” despite his intention to resign ahead of time.

What happens after the election, however, kept markets on edge, sending stocks and bonds plunging.

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