Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday that a recent unity agreement between long-warring Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah should be a cause for concern for "all those in the world who aspire to see peace between us and our Palestinian neighbors."
A future peace between Israel and the Palestinians will be created "only with those who want to be on our side, and not those who want our annihilation," Netanyahu said.
His comments came days after the Palestinians announced a new unity deal between the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and the Iran-backed Hamas, which rejects any accommodation with Israel.
Israel has said it will not negotiate with Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union.
"Israel extends its hand in peace to all peoples of the region, to all of our neighbors that aspire to live alongside us in peace," Netanyahu said, "and will stand steadfast against whoever tries to attack us and endanger our existence."
The prime minister recently hinted to a visiting delegation of U.S. Congress members that the United States should consider stopping economic aid to the Palestinian Authority if a Hamas-Fatah unity government did not recognize Israel and renounce terror.
Speaking to the American legislators, Netanyahu quoted remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in April 2009, that Israel would not hold talks with or economically support a Palestinian government, including Hamas, until Hamas recognized Israel and abandoned violence.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio earlier Sunday that Israel is freezing an $89 million cash transfer to the Palestinians due to the unity deal. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat branded the move a declaration of war by Israel.
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