The Israeli prime minister said the Palestinian Authority should not make peace with Hamas after five years of enmity. Hamas is widely seen as more radical than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, but he is focusing on internal reconciliation while the peace process with Israel stalls. The Israeli government has frozen $100 million in funds collected for the authority as it pressures Abbas to walk away from a tentative deal, announced by the two parties last week. The deal would create a unified governing party and plan parliamentary and presidential elections next year. —KDG
As Palestinian political factions prepared Tuesday to formally sign a political reconciliation agreement in Cairo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority to pull out of the deal, saying it would jeopardize the already-stalled Middle East peace process.
Meeting with Middle East Envoy Tony Blair in Jerusalem, Netanyahu called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “immediately cancel the reconciliation deal with Hamas and choose the path of peace with Israel.”
The Egyptian-brokered agreement, word of which was first announced last week, seeks to mend the political differences between the two largest Palestinian factions: Abbas’ party, the West Bank-based Fatah and the Islamist group Hamas, which rules Gaza.
“The agreement between Abu Mazen (Abbas) and Hamas is a hard blow to the peace process,” Netanyahu told Blair. “How can peace be achieved with a government (in which half of the ministers) call for the destruction of the State of Israel and praises the master killer Osama bin Laden?”