Netanyahu Rejects Palestinians’ ‘Bogus Reconciliation’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, shown here at the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Yerushalayim on Sunday. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that the Palestinian reconciliation deal will not be accepted unless Fatah and Hamas also reconcile with Israel.

In a meeting of the Likud, PM 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, and we are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence. Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction, and so on and so forth. Even these very clear things must be clearly stated.”

U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, said in a statement that while Washington welcomed the effort to put the PA back in control of Gaza, any resulting unity government “must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and peaceful negotiations.”

However, the latest round of Palestinian reconciliation, despite high-profile meetings, looked like it would likely follow previous rounds to the same diplomatic graveyard, as it emerged that the two factions have yet to work out the fundamental issue of the Hamas military arm.

Hamas reiterated on Tuesday that it won’t surrender its weapons, and still expects Abbas’s cuts to social services in Gaza to be restored in the short term.

Abbas told Egyptian news station CBC late Monday that he would not go along with an agreement on the Lebanon model, in which Hezbollah fields a huge military while leaving governance to civilians. Fatah would assume “full control” of Gaza, or nothing, and that includes the border, security and all ministries.

Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has an estimated 27,000 men under arms.

Earlier on Tuesday, Jewish Home party chairman Education Minister Naftali Bennett called for measures beyond rhetoric, saying that Israel “must immediately stop transferring tax money to the Hamas government headed by Abbas.”

“Israel must stop being terror’s ATM. This isn’t about Palestinian reconciliation but about Mahmoud Abbas joining forces with a murderous terror organization. Transferring monies to a Hamas government is akin to transferring funds from Israel to IS – rockets will be fired at us in return,” Bennett said in a statement.

Bennett stipulated three conditions before money transfers would be authorized: return of the bodies of slain IDF soldiers Oron Shaul, Hy”d, and Hadar Goldin, Hy”d; Hamas’s recognition of Israel and “the ending of incitement”; and the Palestinian Authority ending all payments to terrorists imprisoned in Israel.