Foreign Ministry says int’l community must clarify to PA it will not deal with Palestinian gov’t that includes unreformed Hamas.
Amid continuing uncertainty regarding what the Doha agreement between Fatah and Hamas actually means, Israel is stepping up its demand that the international community not accept an unreformed Hamas as part of the Palestinian Authority government.
“The international community can play a role in promoting peace,” the Foreign Ministry wrote in a paper circulated Thursday on the Hamas- Fatah deal. “It must stand by the Quartet’s three principles. By clarifying to the Palestinian Authority that impenitent terrorist organizations cannot be partners with those seeking peace, the world will be telling the Palestinians that terrorism will not be tolerated or rewarded.”
The Quartet established three criteria for engaging with Hamas: that it give up terrorism, recognize Israel and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
The agreement signed Monday in Doha calls for the establishment of an interim unity agreement, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas replacing Salam Fayyad as the PA’s prime minister.
Many, however, are skeptical the agreement will be implemented.
According to diplomatic officials, Israel has made clear to the international community that a package of largely economic incentives to entice the Palestinians back to talks that started last month in Jordan will be taken off the table if the Hamas-Fatah deal is consummated.
“Israel is not going to come with any confidence-building measures if this agreement is implemented,” one diplomatic official said. A sign of its implementation, he added, would be Fayyad’s replacement.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meeting in New York Thursday with the UN ambassadors from 15 countries, said Israel would not accept a Palestinian government with Hamas as a member if it did not accept the international community’s three criteria. He said the Doha agreement contributed neither to the promotion of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations nor to Palestinian interests, and only served the personal interests of the two men who had signed it: Abbas and Hamas head Khaled Mashaal.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that the PA has to choose: peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.
Jerusalem’s position on the Hamas- Fatah agreement, as presented in the foreign ministry paper, is that Hamas is an unrepentant terrorist organization, supported by Iran and dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
Mashaal made his position clear after signing the agreement, the paper said, adding that the deal would create greater unity “in order to be free for confronting the enemy.”
The paper asserted that the reconciliation of the main Palestinian factions could have meant that Hamas adopted Fatah’s line and would be willing to engage in negotiations with Israel. Instead, “it now seems that Fatah, the main component of the Palestinian Authority, is the one rallying behind Hamas’s extremist views.”
In addition to waiting to see whether this deal will be implemented, diplomatic officials were also waiting for a Palestinian decision on whether to continue with the preliminary talks in Jordan. The Palestinians have come under considerable pressure from the US and EU to do so, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair is continuing to consult intensively with Israeli and Palestinian officials, as well as other leaders in the region, to put together a package that would lead to a continuation of the Jordan talks.
An Arab league meeting to discuss whether Abbas should return to these talks is scheduled for the coming week. That meeting has already been postponed twice since the last Israeli- Palestinian meeting in Jordan on January 25.
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