Israel-Palestinian peace talks are already on ice, but they’ll be in a deep freeze if the Palestinians bring the Hamas terror group back into their government as currently planned. What’s more, American support for the Palestinians could be frozen then too.
At the very least, the US is not happy with the announcement that the Fatah political party led by President Mahmoud Abbas, which has been negotiating a deal with Israel for the last nine months, is set to reunite in a government with Hamas. The main issues are that Hamas continues to claim all of Israel’s territory for itself and refuses to renounce violence. As US spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist.”
Psaki, in comments to reporters released by the State Department, said that the US is “disappointed by the announcement and certainly troubled by it.” But it may be more serious than that.
If the Palestinian unity deal actually is implemented—and Psaki noted they’ve been talking about doing this for a long time so it’s no guarantee—then US financial aid to the Palestinians would be in jeopardy unless Hamas accepts Israel. Psaki felt the Palestinians should realize that risk.
“We’ve been in touch with the Palestinians… I don’t have that level of detail [about what was told them], but I don’t think there’s any secret about what the impact would be,” said Psaki.
Hamas is a terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip. They and Fatah split in 2007—thereby dividing the Palestinian government into two—and have been at odds ever since. A longtime launcher of rockets at Israel and the sponsor of numerous suicide bombings, Hamas has repeatedly rejected negotiations with Israel and embraced violence against them.
Psaki said it’s up to the Palestinians, presumably Abbas, to address these concerns while the talks with Israel hang in the balance. “I think that the ball, at this point, is in the Palestinians’ court to answer these questions as to whether this reconciliation, whether these principles [of recognizing Israel’s right to exist] would be met through that process that have been long established.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was even more strong about the proposed Palestinian unity deal. He said in a statement that Abbas “needs to choose between peace with Israel and an agreement with Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel… Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 24, 2014)