Israel launched diplomatic campaign last week in effort to pressure Abbas to assert PA control over Gaza, following his formation of a Hamas-Fatah unity government .
Israel launched an international diplomatic campaign last week aimed at putting pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the new Palestinian government to assert its control over the Gaza Strip and take security responsibility for what happens there.
On Thursday, June 5, the Foreign Ministry issued an order to Israel’s diplomatic missions worldwide, regarding diplomatic activity following the wave of international recognition for the new Palestinian unity government. “You are requested to contact the most senior politicians possible in your place of service and to convey our expectation that they let Mahmoud Abbas know that the new government’s proclamation of acceptance of the Quartet’s conditions must be translated into actions, and that the new government must assert its control in the field,” it said.
A senior official in Jerusalem said that Israel’s ambassadors were instructed to call upon all countries where they were posted to present Abbas with a series of security demands to prove the seriousness of his intentions:
- Dismantling Hamas’ military arm – Iz al-Din al-Qassam – and having the Palestinian Authority assume oversight of its people and arms.
- A complete halt to the manufacturing and smuggling of arms into Gaza, and missile fire at Israel.
- Renewed deployment of the PA security apparatuses throughout the Gaza Strip, at the border crossings with Israel and the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
The Israeli diplomats were asked to stress, in their talks with their respective foreign ministries and presidential and prime ministerial offices, that the burden is now on Abbas to show that the new Palestinian government’s declaration of acceptance of the Quartet’s conditions is translated into real action.
“Abbas must prove that the Palestinian government’s disavowal of terror – part of its acceptance of the Quartet’s conditions – is being implemented throughout the area over which the government purports to apply its sovereignty, including the Gaza Strip,” say the instructions. “Abbas will also be tested on his ability to prevent violent operations – including so-called ‘popular resistance’ in the West Bank,” a reference to clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israel Defense Forces soldiers during demonstrations.
This is the second set of instructions that has been sent to Israel’s ambassadors around the world since the Palestinian unity government was established. Unlike the first, which consisted largely of statements of denunciation and protest, the current instructions seem to indicate that Israel is beginning to acknowledge the new reality and is defining clearer diplomatic objectives in relation to the unity government.
On June 3, on the eve of the Shavuot holiday – just a few hours after the Israeli cabinet decision on the Palestinian unity government – Israel’s ambassadors were hastily sent a directive asking them to contact their respective government officials to express Israel’s disappointment that Abbas had forged an alliance with Hamas.
The ambassadors were asked to inform the foreign ministries and offices of the presidents and prime ministers about the cabinet decision not to conduct negotiations with the new Palestinian government because of its reliance on Hamas.
“You must point out that Israel will consider altering its policy toward the PA in accordance with the situation that is created in the coming period,” the directive said. “Israel will not recognize this government as long as Hamas does not accept the Quartet’s conditions, and all contacts with it will be on the bureaucratic level alone.”
The ambassadors were also asked to stress that Israel had expected other countries would not rush to recognize the new Palestinian government. But within days it was clear that this request was largely ignored, as the international community welcomed the new Palestinian government and pledged to work with it.
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