U.S.: Abbas Told Kerry Unity Government Will Recognize Israel

State Department spokeswoman says Palestinian president spoke to Kerry and promised that new government with Hamas will represent his polices, calling it 'a positive thing.'

Kerry and Abbas
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 5, 2013 AP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promised U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the new government that will be formed following the Palestinian reconciliation will recognize Israel, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.

Psaki said that Abbas told Kerry that the future unity government with Hamas will be his government and represent his policies – it will recognize Israel, abide by past agreements and will renounce violence. "It's a positive thing," she said.

"[Kerry's] view is this is a moment of transition and part of the process. We are in a holding period where parties need to figure out what is next," Psaki told reporters. "We have always thought there could be a point where we needed to pause and both sides needed to look at what was possible. And we're clearly at that point now."

She said that Kerry still believes that Israeli-Palestinian peace is an Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. interest, but the U.S. cannot force the parties to take steps they aren't interested in taking.

On Thursday, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the Israeli leadership is disappointed with the 'weak' American reaction to the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, and demands a clearer, more resolute response.

Government ministers discussed the international response to the unity agreement at the five-hour security cabinet meeting that dealt with the Palestinian pact that was reached on Wednesday. According to the senior official, ministers were in full agreement that the American response was "insufficient, weak, merely for show and didn't include enough exclamation marks." 

Meanwhile on Friday, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah offered his resignation, the official news agency WAFA said, a move which may pave the way for a unity government agreed between President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.

Israel on Thursday suspended peace talks with the Palestinians, saying it could not negotiate with an administration that embraces a militant group sworn to Israel's destruction.