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Netanyahu welcomes US demands on Palestinian unity government

Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, left, meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, March 13, 2017.
Kobi Gideon/GPO
Hamas blasts Greenblatt's comments, which hew closely with Israel's positions on re-starting negotiations

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he was "glad" that Donald Trump's Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt issued a statement earlier in the day making clear that the United States expects any national Palestinian government to disarm the Islamist Hamas movement, unambiguously renounce violence, and recognize the State of Israel.

"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," a statement from Greenblatt issued Thursday morning local time said.

"If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements," it added.

The comments were warmly received by Netanyahu, whose security cabinet had issued similar demands on Tuesday.

"They [the Trump administration] made it clear that every Palestinian government must be committed to these principles," he said in a statement. "We want peace, we want real peace, and that is precisely why we will not conduct negotiations with a terrorist organization disguised as a state."

Greenblatt's declaration came following the signing of a milestone agreement in Cairo last week between Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, aimed at ending a decade-long split which has crippled Palestinian politics, complicated peace talks with Israel, and exacerbated humanitarian woes in the Gaza Strip.

Under the deal, signed last week in Cairo, Hamas is due to hand over Gaza's border crossings by November 1 ahead of a full transfer of power by December 1.

Hamas fired back at the comments, with the Islamist group's Gaza leader branding Greenblatt's comments as meddling.

"No one in the universe can disarm us. On the contrary, we will continue to have the power to protect our citizens," the Islamist movement's Gaza head Yahya Sinwar said in remarks distributed by Hamas.

"No one has the ability to extract from us recognition of the occupation."

"This is blatant interference in Palestinian affairs because it is the right of our people to choose its government according to their supreme strategic interests," senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told AFP earlier in the day. 

"This statement comes under pressure from the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government and is in line with the Netanyahu statement from two days ago," Naim said, referring to as Israel's preconditions for re-establishing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli security cabinet on Tuesday declared that it would not hold diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian unity government unless it met a number of preconditions including the dismantling of Hamas' military wing, renouncement of violence and the recognition of the State of Israel.

The declaration hews closely with the newly announced US position but includes some stipulations not articulated in Greenblatt's announcement regarding control of border crossings, oversight of humanitarian aid and that Hamas sever its ties with Iran.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and the blockaded Gaza Strip has seen deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

The group is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union.

(Staff with agencies)

See also:

Netanyahu says Palestinian reconciliation deal makes peace 'much harder'

Comments

(2)

it is mind-blowing that we have had to wait so long for a US govt to hold to principles instead of pandering to terrorists (yes, especially obamahamadon )

of course the EU will support Hamas as they are retarded and have centuries of anti-Semitism in their"proud" history

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