Amid Wave of Endorsements, PM 'Troubled' by U.S. Decision to Work With Palestinian Gov't

Despite Israeli protestations, wave of worldwide endorsement for Abbas' new unity government.

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Haniyeh waves as he leaves his office, Gaza City June 2, 2014.
Haniyeh waves as he leaves his office, Gaza City June 2, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his confrontation with Washington over the new Palestinian government up a notch on Tuesday, saying he was "deeply troubled" by the United States' decision to maintain ties with the new unity government. Despite his protestations, however, a groundswell of recognition for Abbas' government has rolled in from around the world.

Speaking with the Associated Press, Netanyahu urged Washington to tell Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that his alliance with the Hamas militant group is unacceptable.

"All those who genuinely seek peace must reject President Abbas' embrace of Hamas, and most especially, I think the United States must make it absolutely clear to the Palestinian president that his pact with Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks Israel's liquidation, is simply unacceptable," he said.

At the same time, the Prime Minister's office issued a statement detailing a conversation Netanyahu held with French President Francoise Hollande, in which he called on the leader to reject the new Palestinian government. "No European nation would allow a terrorist organization to form part of its government," he said.

Several hours later, the French foreign ministry issued a statement supporting the unity government.

Netanyahu has urged the world to shun the government because it is backed by Hamas, an Islamic group that has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks over the past two decades.

Israel's allies in Washington and Europe have said they will maintain ties to the new government — and continue sending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid — as long as it renounces violence and recognizes Israel's right to exist. On Monday, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington intends to work with the new government, but will be watching it closely to ensure that it upholds the principles of the Quartet - recognize Israel, reject terror, and honor previously signed agreements.

Abbas says the new Cabinet is committed to these principles. It is made up of apolitical technocrats who have no ties to Hamas. Hamas, which remains sworn to Israel's destruction, has agreed to support the government from the outside.

EU joins the endorsers

On Tuesday, India, China and Turkey called on the international community to throw its support behind the new Palestinian government. Russia followed suit several hours later. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also issued a statement calling the formation of the unity government "an important step" the process of Palestinian reconciliation.

"We welcome the appointment of a government of independent personalities and the declaration by President Abbas that this new government is committed to the principle of the two state solution based on the 1967 borders, to the recognition of Israel's legitimate right to exist, to non-violence and to the respect of previous agreements," the statement read. "The EU's engagement with the new Palestinian government will be based on its adherence to these policies and commitments."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the move. “The United Nations has long underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity in line with existing resolutions, within the framework of the Palestinian Authority and the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization,” read a statement issued by moon's spokesperson. The UN stands ready to lend its full support to the new government in its effort to reunite the West Bank and Gaza, in line with the unity deal, under one legitimate Palestinian authority, the letter reads.

Britain also expressed support, with conditions. "We welcome yesterday’s announcement," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement. "Reuniting Gaza and the West Bank under a government committed to peace is a necessary condition for resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We have made clear that our continued support to the new government will rest on its commitment to the principle of non-violence, and an acceptance of all previous agreements and obligations, including Israel’s legitimate right to exist."

The prime minister's office, meanwhile, made use of social media to express opposition to the Fatah-Hamas alliance. Netanyahu's official twitter page posted a photo of the scene of a suicide bombing – the remains of a bombed bus, with the body of a man partially covered by a sheet nearby – accompanied by the text "Meet President Abbas' new partners: Hamas suicide bombers murdered hundreds of Israelis."

Abbas, read another tweet, "prefers a pact with Hamas over peace with Israel."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to MK Zeev Elkin during a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Jerusalem.Credit: Reuters

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