"The continuing (Israeli) occupation and aggressions are at the root of the cycle" of violence, Haniya told ministers from his Hamas-led government in a cabinet meeting the day after a suicide attack by a youth from the Islamic Jihad movement which killed nine in Tel Aviv.

"Peace and security in the region will flow from the end of the occupation and the recovery of all our rights," he added.

The Hamas party has come under heavy international criticism over its failure to condemn the bombing, the first inside Israel since Hamas formed a government last month. Nine people were killed by the suicide bomber who came from the Islamic Jihad faction.

In a statement just before the Tel Aviv attack, Ismail Haniya stated,
"From time immemorial, Palestine was the peaceful homeland of native Muslims, Christians and Jews who lived together in peace and harmony, sharing a common history and heritage. In fact, it was only after Palestine was placed under the British mandate following World War I, and when the British colonialist authorities subsequently decided to illegally give Palestine, our ancestral homeland, to Zionism, that inter-communal and inter- religious harmony was disturbed.

"As result of that wanton injustice, we find ourselves today as prisoners in our own homeland, enslaved and tormented by an illegal and immoral occupier who is treating our people as children of a lesser God, or even as if we were animals.

"In fact, the criminal nature of this occupation transcends reality. The ugly scenes of murder, home demolitions, and humiliation to which our people are subjected to on a daily basis and which people outside Palestine watch on their TV screens, are but a small part of what is really happening on the ground."

Israel has placed responsibility for Monday’s bombing on Hamas, with Israeli government spokesman Ranaan Gissin assailing the movement for "the fact that they allow other terrorist organisations to carry out these horrendous terrorist attacks".