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Isreal urges world not to recognise Palestinian unity government

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-06-2014 Jeffrey Heller

Jerusalem: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned against any international rush to recognise a Palestinian government, due to be announced under a unity pact between the Fatah and Hamas Islamist groups.

Israel and the west classify Hamas as a terrorist organisation and have no official dealings with the movement, which advocates the destruction of the Jewish state.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas in April, said a unity government due to be announced on Monday would be comprised of ministers without political affiliation, a status that could ease the way for western engagement.

“I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to rush to recognise a Palestinian government which has Hamas as part of it and which is dependent on Hamas,” Netanyahu, who has claimed that such an administration would be a front for the Islamist group, told his cabinet.

“Hamas is a terrorist organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction, and the international community must not embrace it. That would not bolster peace, it would strengthen terror,” Netanyahu said in public remarks at the cabinet meeting.

Israel froze US brokered peace talks with Abbas when the unity deal was announced on 23 April after numerous unsuccessful attempts at Palestinian reconciliation since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah forces in fighting in 2007.

Boycott?

Abbas said on Saturday that Israel “informed us ... they would boycott us if we announced the government”. Netanyahu, in his brief statement on Sunday, made no reference to any Israeli sanctions.

Israel has withheld tax revenues from Abbas’s aid-dependent Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, in retaliation for his signing of international conventions and treaties in April after Israel went back on its promise of releasing Palestinian prisoners.

On Saturday, a Palestinian official said Israel had denied requests by three Gaza-based Palestinians expected to be named as ministers to attend the new government’s swearing-in ceremony in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas has said a joint government with Hamas would continue to abide by his policy of recognising Israel, though the Islamist group insists it would not change its own policy of rejecting Israel’s existence.

He has been keen to assure western donor countries that he will remain the key Palestinian decision-maker and that security coordination between his forces and Israel will continue.

Both Fatah and Hamas see benefits in a unity pact, though disagreements have blocked them from achieving such a government for years.

With a strict blockade imposed by neighbours Israel and Egypt, Hamas has been struggling to prop up Gaza’s economy and pay its 40,000 employees. Abbas, for his part, wants to shore up his domestic support since the peace talks with Israel collapsed. Reuters

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