JERUSALEM -- Israel's blunt-talking foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, gave vent on Wednesday to the government's anger over recent diplomatic gains by the Palestinians paired with international rebukes for Israel, comparing Israel's situation to that of Czechoslovakia in 1938 before the Nazi invasion.
Israel was dismayed last month when all the countries of Europe, other than the Czech Republic, supported the Palestinians or abstained when the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the status of the Palestinians at the United Nations.
The country was further aggrieved when several major countries responded to its immediate announcement of plans for further settlement planning and construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by summoning Israeli ambassadors to protest.
Defiantly standing by the settlement plans Mr. Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have expressed outrage over what Mr. Netanyahu described as a "deafening silence" abroad after Khaled Meshal, the political leader of Hamas, vowed to build an Islamic Palestinian state on all the land of Israel during a visit to Gaza over the weekend.
Addressing members of the foreign press here on Monday, Mr. Netanyahu asked why Palestinian diplomats were not summoned in European capitals to explain why Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, had not only failed to condemn Mr. Meshal's remarks but instead was speaking about reconciliation with the rival Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union regard as a terrorist organization.
Mr. Lieberman, who leads the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, has often spoken his mind in terms that critics would describe as undiplomatic . Mr. Netanyahu, of the conservative Likud Party, has on occasion distanced himself from his foreign minister's remarks. But in October these two coalition partners announced that their parties would run on a joint ticket in the January elections, and Mr. Lieberman has effectively become Mr. Netanyahu's No. 2.
Speaking in English at a conference for foreign diplomats in Israel sponsored by the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Mr. Lieberman said, "When push comes to shove many key leaders would be willing to sacrifice Israel without batting an eyelid in order to appease Islamic radicals and ensure quiet for themselves." He added, "We are not willing to become a second Czechoslovakia and sacrifice vital security interests."
Excerpts of the speech were broadcast and reported on the Jerusalem Post Web site.
In another response to the Palestinians' successful bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations to that of a nonmember observer state, Israel refused to transfer tax revenues it had collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority last month, instead using the money to pay off part of a debt run up by the Palestinian Authority to the Israel Electric Corporation and other Israeli providers.
Mr. Lieberman said on Wednesday that it would take four months for the Palestinian Authority to repay its debts from tax revenues and that no money would be transferred from Israel to the authority until the debts were paid off.
A day earlier, in response to a statement by the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union that strongly condemned Israel's plans for settlement expansion, Mr. Lieberman told Israel Radio, "We have already been through this with Europe at the end of the 1930s and in the 1940s," accusing Europe of ignoring calls for Israel's destruction.
Mr. Lieberman said that it did not stem from "an anti-Semitic motive but rather it is a narrow motive of interests," adding: "Then too, back in the 1940s. They already knew by the start of the 1940s exactly what was happening in the concentration camps, what was happening with the Jews and they didn't exactly act."
The European Union statement included a denunciation of the Hamas leader's remarks, saying it found "inflammatory statements by Hamas leaders that deny Israel's right to exist unacceptable." It also pledged to continue efforts to combat terrorism and reiterated the European Union's "fundamental commitment to the security of Israel."
Tzipi Livni, the former foreign minister who is running in the elections at the head of a new centrist party, Hatnuah (The Movement), accused Mr. Lieberman of cheapening the Holocaust with his Nazi-era comparisons.
"It's an incorrect comparison, and incomprehensible," she said at the Jerusalem Post conference on Wednesday. "There is absolutely no similarity between the situation of Israeli citizens today and that of European Jews then."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.