A pragmatic Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu opines, “Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation must know our terms are clear: recognizing the State of Israel, disbanding Hamas’ military arm and severing ties with Iran, which calls for our destruction.”
• PA rebuttal: ‘Israel wants to perpetuate the conflict because it obstructs establishing a Palestinian state.’
By Shlomo Cesana, Daniel Siryoti, Mati Tuchfeld, Adi Hashmonai, Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed on Tuesday that Israel would not deal with a Palestinian government that included Hamas if it maintained its anti-Israel stance and remained committed to terrorism.
Touring Maaleh Adumim, a Jerusalem suburb beyond the Green Line, Netanyahu said: “We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel and, of course, to recognize a Jewish state. We are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian factions apparently reconcile at the expense of our existence.
“Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation must know our terms are clear: recognizing the State of Israel, disbanding Hamas’ military arm, severing ties with Iran, which calls for our destruction, and so on and so forth. Even these very clear things must be clearly stated” by the Palestinians.
Netanyahu further announced an “upswing in construction in Maaleh Adumim” vowing to “build thousands of new homes here.” Netanyahu further said: “We will add more areas of industries and expand the community as a whole to have accelerated development in this place. This will be part of the State of Israel.”
The prime minister’s comments followed the first time in three years in which the Palestinian government convened in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah chaired the meeting, having arrived in Gaza with a large delegation of PA officials.
The Hamas terrorist group, which violently seized control of Gaza in 2007, and Fatah, which controls the Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank, have recently launched their most ambitious attempt yet to mend the 10-year rift.
In television interviews on Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lambasted Israel, saying, “It says there is no one with whom it can make peace, because of the internal divisions among Palestinians, but on the other hand, it says it would not tolerate our reconciliation with Hamas because it is a terrorist organization. Israel wants to perpetuate the existing situation because the division prevents the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Abbas said that he would make a reconciliation deal with Hamas contingent on having all of the group’s weapons under his control. He said Monday that he would not allow Hamas to act like Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist group that is part of Beirut’s parliament and operates freely in its country.
The rival Palestinian factions are set to begin negotiations next week in Cairo.
Abbas said he would insist on Hamas handing over control of the border crossings in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority assuming full control over the coastal enclave.
“If Hamas tries to place obstacles, the reconciliation process will stall; if Hamas wants to join the Palestine Liberation Organization [in which Abbas’ Fatah is the dominant faction], it will have to accept the PLO’s policy,” Abbas said.
Egypt’s intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to meet senior Palestinian officials, including Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh.
At the government meeting in Gaza, Fawzi played a recorded message from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi who said, “I assure you we have no time to waste, and that history will hold accountable those who waste the current opportunity to bring about peace. Everyone loses when there is Palestinian division; the Palestinians must resolve their differences with the help of Arab states.
In an interview with Egypt’s private On TV, Haniyeh said Tuesday that his group has “the right to possess weapons and resist the occupation with all forms of resistance.”
Meanwhile, Joint Arab List leader MK Ayman Odeh called Abbas and Haniyeh on Tuesday to congratulate them on the rapprochement efforts. Odeh said Palestinians in Israel have high hopes for a unity deal, adding all efforts should be aimed at ending what he called the “Israeli occupation.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed Odeh for these comments, saying: “Unfortunately, the political leadership of the Israeli Arabs, as represented by the Joint Arab List members in the Knesset, has become a fifth column, in the fullest sense. The MKs now serve as the senior representatives of terrorist groups in Israel’s parliament. It is time those who engage in subversive actions against the state are held accountable.”
Likud MK Oren Hazan called Odeh “a terrorist in a suit.” He added that “what Odeh managed to obscure with smiles in two years came out with one phone call.”
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