While claiming to be in favor of negotiating a peace deal with Israel, the Palestinian Authority leadership is seeking to unite with terror group Hamas.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, following the breakdown of the U.S.-brokered peace negotiations between the PA and Israel, expects to form a unity government with the Hamas terror organization within five weeks.
The announcement was made on Tuesday and further talks are continuing on Wednesday.
Meeting at his Jerusalem office Wednesday morning with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented:
“The Palestinian Authority, which yesterday was talking about its dismantlement, is today talking about unity with Hamas,” which fiercely opposes any peace talks with Israel and calls for its destruction.
“You’re coming at an important time,” Netanyahu said. “We’re trying to re-launch the negotiations with the Palestinians. Every time we get to that point, Abbas stacks on an additional condition, which he knows that Israel cannot give. So instead of moving toward peace with Israel, he’s moving toward peace with Hamas.”
Palestinian Unity with Hamas or Peace with Israel?
Abbas “has to choose,” Netanyahu told Kurz. “Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other.”
“They need to decide,” he stated. “Do they want to dismantle themselves or to unite with Hamas? When they want peace, they should let us know.”
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh had initiated the meeting with the PA, saying it was necessary “in order to form one government, one political system and one national program” for the Palestinian Arabs.
The “continued split [between Hamas and the PA] is no longer bearable,” Haniyeh declared, adding that a government would be presented at the end of June.
Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, where terrorists launch deadly rockets at Israeli civilians in the south. The terror group had criticized PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the interim government of the PA-administered territories in Judea and Samaria, for participating in the peace talks.
While claiming he was interested in a peace deal, Abbas consistently refused to recognize the Jewish state, insisted on the freeing of notorious murderers from Israeli prisons, encouraged PA incitement to violence and glorified terrorists.
“Abbas is [former PA Chairman and arch-terrorist Yasser] Arafat in disguise,” asserted Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis. “The Palestinian leadership under Abbas just changed its tone and not its essence. Under the honey-coated words and diplomacy is hiding an extremist leadership that is not interested in peace but, rather, in endless extortion.”
It remains to be seen whether the rival groups will succeed in forming a Palestinian unity government, and if so, whether it would last. A number of previous attempts had been made with little progress.
Author: Atara Beck, Staff Writer, United with Israel