Netanyahu: PA Must Choose Between Peace With Us, Hamas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday slammed the reconciliation deal reached between Fatah and Hamas, hinting this latest development proves that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for peace. The prime minister intends to make the issue a central element of his talks in Paris and London next week.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office told Haaretz that Israel has been following the negotiations to form a Palestinian unity government for a number of months. When Abbas announced several weeks ago that he intended to visit the Gaza Strip, Israel sent strong messages to the U.S. administration and the European Union opposing a national unity government in the West Bank and Gaza. The sources said that yesterday's announcement still came as a surprise.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Michal Pattel

The United States reacted coolly to yesterday, calling Hamas a terrorist organization and saying any Palestinian government must renounce violence. The Obama administration carefully repeated the demands of the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators, including that any government respect past peace agreements and recognize Israel's right to exist.

"The United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms that promote the cause of peace. Hamas, however, is a terrorist organization which targets civilians," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

"To play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles and renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist," he continued.

Spokespersons for the White House and the U.S. State Department said they were seeking more information about the reported deal between the two rival groups.