West Must Insist Abbas Not Let Hamas Get Upper Hand, New York Times Says

In Friday editorial, daily says Netanyahu's skepticism toward new Palestinian government is warranted, notes the growing breach between Israel and its allies.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (5th from left in front) with ministers at the unity government's swearing-in ceremony, Ramallah, West Bank, June 2, 2014.Reuters

The onus for ensuring continued American support for the new Palestinian unity government rests with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the New York Times wrote on Friday in an editorial signed by its editorial board.

"The United States has to be careful to somehow distinguish between its support for the new government and an endorsement of Hamas and its violent, hateful behavior," the newspaper writes. "To have some hope of doing that, the United States and Europe must continue to insist that Mr. Abbas stick to his promises and not allow Hamas to get the upper hand."

The carefully balanced editorial shows a good deal of understanding for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that some of his skepticism regarding the technocratic and non-partisan nature of the new government is warranted.

"The United States and other countries that consider Hamas a terrorist group may find it impossible to continue aiding the Palestinians if Hamas plays a more pronounced role," it writes.

At the same time, the editorial notes inconsistencies between Netanyahu's demand that the U.S, cut off aid to the new government, and his own government's remittance of tax revenues to the Palestinians, as well as its history of negotiating with Hamas when it was in its interest – such as for the release of Gilad Shalit and the 2012 ceasefire with the Hamas government in Gaza.

The New York Times notes that Netanyahu's "failure to persuade the international community not to recognize the new government reflects a growing breach between Israel and its most important allies." Even China, India and Russia have welcomed the unity government, "despite Israel’s efforts to build closer ties with all three," it says.

"If there is ever to be an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement … the Palestinians must be united," according to the New York. It is up to Abbas to ensure that unity does not lead to Hamas gaining the upper hand.