“For you are a people consecrated to Hashem your God: Hashem your God chose you from among all other peoples on earth to be His treasured people.” Deuteronomy 14:2 (The Israel Bible™)
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that he will not appoint any Hamas officials to the Palestinian unity government unless they publicly recognize Israel, the Times of Israel reported.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), to which the PA is subordinate, recognized Israel in 1993 under the auspices of Yasser Arafat. In contrast, Hamas, the terror group which runs the Gaza Strip, has never done so, and has repeatedly vowed to destroy Israel.
Despite their differences, the PA and Hamas recently signed a reconciliation agreement in Egypt which would see the two factions coalescing into a single governing body controlling all Palestinian territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
While the two bodies have agreed upon a framework for creating the unity government, one core issue remains unaddressed: the disarmament of Hamas’s military wing. During discussions, Abbas said that Hamas fully disarming was a non-negotiable condition for unity, but the terror group did not commit to shutting down its military and an agreement was signed nonetheless, leading to protests from Israel and the United States.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that unless the new Palestinian unity government involves the disarming of Hamas, renunciation of terror and full recognition of Israel, the Jewish State would not participate in further peace talks. His demands were quickly backed up by the US.
Abbas’s comments on Sunday made clear that his unity government will recognize Israel, but he stayed mum on the issue of Hamas’s military. However, he emphasized that he intends to continue working with the US towards peace, telling a delegation of former Israeli lawmakers in Ramallah that “the Americans have assured him they will announce their support for a two-state solution soon.”
In nearly the same breath, the Palestinian leader criticized Netanyahu for preventing the resumption of peace negotiations, saying, “Netanyahu doesn’t want to renew the peace process, he thinks I’m going to stay here and guard the occupation.”