U.S. Has Pledged to Support Israeli Position on Talks With Palestinian Unity Government

New York Times says the commitment was given both at the start of Obama's presidency and after his re-election.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Obama and Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, September 30, 2013.Credit: Bloomberg
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

An Israeli official told the New York Times on Monday that Israel had in the past received “a specific commitment from the American administration” that it would not be expected to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government if Hamas did not meet the criteria set by the Middle East Quartet: recognition of Israel, renunciation of terror and a commitment to honor past agreements.

The Middle East Quartet – comprising the United Nations the United States, the European Union and Russia – has been involved in mediating the peace process since 2002. Its current special envoy is former British prime minister Tony Blair.

If, as a result of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, a Palestinian government of technocrats that accepts the Quartet's terms is established, the U.S. will be satisfied, administration officials have said in recent days.

Israel has expressed disappointment at the "weak" American response and has demanded that the administration clarify that all parties supporting the Palestinian government, including Hamas, must accept the Quartet's terms - and not only the actual members of the government.

"We have received a specific U.S. commitment supporting out position," a senior Israeli source told the New York Times.

The Israeli official said that the commitment had been given to Israel during President Obama’s first term in office and that it had been restated since his re-election. The Americans, he added, agreed with Israel that would not negotiate with a Palestinian unity government so long as Hamas did not accept the terms of the Quartet.