Contrary to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s efforts to persuade the international community to condemn and isolate the newly formed Fatah-Hamas government, it was Israel that found itself increasingly on the outside as of Thursday, as the European Union joined the U.S. in saying it would work with the Palestinians.
To the dismay of Israel, Western diplomats are in effect giving Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas the benefit of the doubt regarding his promise to hold his Hamas-supported government to international standards.
“We welcome … the declaration by President Abbas that this new government is committed to the principle of the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, to the recognition of Israel’s legitimate right to exist,” the EU said in a statement.
Secretary of State John Kerry sought to finesse the issue of recognition of a terrorist government on Wednesday, as he himself articulated the policy, not relying on spokespersons, as he did earlier in the week.
“Let me be very clear: The United States does not recognize a government with respect to Palestine, because that would recognize a state and there is no state,” Kerry said. “This is not an issue of recognition of a government.”
Kerry also noted his reservations: “We are going to be watching [the government] very closely, as we said from day one, to absolutely ensure that it upholds each of those things it has talked about, that it doesn’t cross the line,” Kerry said.
He added that he has been talking with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about the matter. “I’ve had several conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu. We’re completely talking about this on a day-to-day basis,” Kerry said in Beirut on Wednesday.
But whatever the unpublicized content of their conversations, no meeting of the minds was indicated.
Netanyahu said that he is “deeply troubled” by the American brush-off of his exhortations to condemn and isolate the Fatah-Hamas entity, in a comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday, in which he reminded the world that Hamas has murdered “countless innocent civilians.”
“All those who genuinely seek peace must reject President Abbas’ embrace of Hamas, and most especially, I think the United States must make it absolutely clear to the Palestinian president that his pact with Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s liquidation, is simply unacceptable,” he said.
Israel’s Minister of Intelligence Dr. Yuval Steinitz released a sharply challenging statement on Thursday:
“Pursuant to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement to the effect that the new Palestinian government is ‘committed to previous agreements,’ we must ask: Is it his intention to now demand that Mahmoud Abbas and his government publicly reiterate their commitment to ‘the principle of complete demilitarization’ which constitutes a cornerstone of the Oslo accords, and to begin dismantling and destroying the thousands of missiles stationed in the Gaza Strip?
“If not, the Palestinian remarks about ‘honoring previous agreements’ border on deception and fraud,” declared Steinitz.