Greenblatt: PA Deal Must Include Commitment to Negotiations, Non-Violence

U.S. Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt seen during a visit on the border with the Gaza Strip. (David Azagury/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)

The U.S. supports the reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah – as long as the Gaza terror group lays down its arms and accepts the parameters of negotiations laid out by the international community, Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations and chief Middle East troubleshooter, said in an official statement.

The U.S., the Quartet of Nations working on Israel-Palestinian negotiations, and Israeli officials all agree “that it is essential that the Palestinian Authority be able to assume full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza and that we work together to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinians living there.” The new deal promises to do that: According to the deal signed last week in Cairo, Hamas is set to surrender civil control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority at the beginning of November.

With that, “the United States reiterates the importance of adherence to the Quartet principles: any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties — including to disarm terrorists — and commit to peaceful negotiations. If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements,” Greenblatt said in the statement.

Commenting on the statement, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that he welcomed the “clear stance of the United States and representative Jason Greenblatt, that the Palestinian government must disarm terror groups and recognize Israel. I once again emphasize the stance of our government: Israel will not conduct negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on a terror organization like Hamas until it disarms, recognizes Israel, and returns to us our kidnapped citizens and soldiers.”

Under the deal, Hamas will become an equal partner with Fatah in the running of the Palestinian Authority. 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, which “means partnership in decisions of war and peace,” al-Arouri was quoted as saying.

Israel is less optimistic than Greenblatt on the possibility that Hamas will follow the rules. In an official statement, the government 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.”

Hamas slammed that statement, calling it unwarranted “Israeli intervention in internal Palestinian affairs, which is unacceptable. The proper Palestinian response must be to continue to stabilize the internal Palestinian government and work for the success of our reconciliation,” the terror group said in a statement.

In a statement last week, the Prime Minister’s Office said that “as long as Hamas does not disarm and continues to call for the destruction of Israel, Israel holds it responsible for all terrorist actions originating in the Gaza Strip. Israel opposes any reconciliation that does not include these components.”