Netanyahu says Palestinian reconciliation deal makes peace 'much harder'
AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday strongly condemned a reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions, saying it would make peace with his country "much harder to achieve".
"Reconciling with mass murderers is part of the problem, not part of the solution," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Any reconciliation must include an agreement to disarm Hamas and recognition of Israel, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office meanwhile said.
"Any reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas must include compliance with international agreements, compliance with the conditions of the Quartet, primarily recognition of Israel and the disarming of Hamas," a statement from the office said.
It reiterated Israel's demands that Hamas release captive Israelis and remains of fallen soldiers, that the group cease digging tunnels and manufacturing rockets, and that the Palestinian Authority ensure the destruction of Hamas terrorist outposts.
"Israel will examine developments in the field and act accordingly," said the statement.
Palestinian Authority President and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas hailed the unity agreement signed Thursday as a "final agreement to end the division" -- though many key issues remain to be resolved and previous reconciliation attempts have repeatedly failed.
The future of Hamas's 25,000-strong military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, was not mentioned in any of the public statements or documents.
An official from Abbas's Fatah movement said the Palestinian president was now planning to travel to the Gaza Strip within a month as part of the unity bid.
It will be Abbas' first visit to the coastal enclave since 2007, when his Fatah party was brutally ousted from the territory by Hamas in a near civil war following a dispute over parliamentary elections.
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