Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by Emil Salman
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The U.S. State Department rejected on Tuesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's protestations over the fact that Washington decided to maintain ties with the new Palestinian unity government.

"It is not a government backed by Hamas," said deputy spokesperson Marie Harf, in the State Department's daily press briefing. "There are no members of Hamas in the government."

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Washington intends to work with the new government. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington would work with the new government as long as it upholds the Quartet principles - to recognize Israel, reject terror, and honor previously signed agreements.

Netanyahu said that he was both "deeply disappointed" and "deeply troubled" by the U.S. decision.

Harf told reporters that the new Palestinian government is a transitional one that is comprised of people who are not associated politically with any party, and that its main role is to prepare for parliamentary elections. The interim government's prime minister, his two deputies and the finance minister are people who were in the previous government, she added.

"Hamas is a designated terror organization in the U.S. and we will not provide it with any assistance. We don't have any contacts with Hamas," she said. 

Acording to Harf, the United States will judge the new government by its actions and will follow closely in order to see that it does indeed uphold the Quartet principles.

On Tuesday, endorsement for the new Palestinian government came in thick and fast from around the world, with Russia, China, India, Turkey, France and the U.K. expressing their backing. The European Union and the United Nations also stated their endorsement.