Hamas: Israel Has No Right to Criticize Reconciliation Deal

YERUSHALAYIM -
A man releases fireworks during celebrations after rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal, in Gaza City last week. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)

Hamas on Wednesday slammed an Israeli Cabinet decision to refuse to conduct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority if the Gaza terror group was part of the PA government. “This Israeli intervention in internal Palestinian affairs is unacceptable,” a Hamas spokesperson said in a statement. “The proper Palestinian response must be to continue to stabilize the internal Palestinian government and work for the success of our reconciliation.”

In an official statement, the Cabinet said that “as in the past, we continue to hold the position that the government of Israel will not conduct negotiations with a Palestinian government that depends on the inclusion of a terrorist group that seeks the destruction of Israel.” Israel has numerous conditions for accepting Hamas as part of a PA government: Hamas needs to recognize Israel’s existence as a Jewish state; terror attacks must cease; Hamas must disarm, as demanded by Israel and the Quartet; Hamas must return Israelis, both living and otherwise, including IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin, Oren Shaul, and Avram Mengistu; Hamas must give up its relationship with Iran; and all money sent to Gaza must be sent via official PA channels, not Hamas “charities.”

The Cabinet decision is the Israeli response to last week’s announcement that Hamas and Fatah had agreed to end their feud. The deal between the two terror organizations was engineered by Egypt, and signed by Hamas and Fatah last week. Top Hamas terrorist Saleh al-Arouri announced over the weekend that among other things, the deal would integrate Hamas and Fatah security and police forces in Gaza and in PA-controlled areas of Yehudah and Shomron. The deal “means partnership in decisions of war and peace,” al-Arouri was quoted as saying.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept a situation where Hamas was allowed to continue to operate as a terrorist militia, leaving civil administration to Fatah. “Once again PA chief Mahmoud Abbas chooses to make a deal with a group whose charter calls for Muslims to murder Jews,” Netanyahu said, adding that it was obvious that Israel could not make a deal in such a situation.

The PA has not officially commented on Israel’s reaction, but a PA official was quoted by Yisrael Hayom as saying that the Cabinet decision “again proves that it is Israel that does not want talks to restart, and is the one that is making it difficult to engage in negotiations.”